Tough Economic Conditions Fail To Dent Demand For MBAs and Business School Graduates

    Tougher economic conditions around the world have not slowed the demand for postgraduate business students, with many big employers around the world optimistic they will hire more graduates this year than in 2022, according to a survey of corporate recruiters by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

    Based on responses from more than 1,000 corporate recruiters and staffing firms around the world, the 2023 report explores which skills employers think will characterise the future workplace and how macroeconomic conditions are influencing hiring and salary decisions across industries and around the globe.

    The survey showed most employers across several industries report wanting to increase their headcount of business school graduates, and nearly all organisations are looking to increase or stabilise their overall size.

    “Hiring projections in key industries look similar to 2022’s actual hiring results, though are a bit less optimistic than 2022 projections,” the report said. “Employers are likely to place graduates of specialised master’s into corresponding roles, and business master’s talent is anticipated to get a small bump in hiring in 2023.”

    “Despite the reported concern of recession, nearly half of tech employers still anticipate increasing their headcount in 2023. Likewise, more than half of employers in the consulting, products/ services, and energy/utilities sectors anticipate expanding their headcount.”

    MBAs continue to be the most in-demand graduate business degree type across industries.

    Skills of The Future

    The report also explores which skills employers think will characterise the future workplace – and how prepared they view candidates of MBA and business master’s degrees to be.

    Employers say communication, data analysis, and strategy are currently among the most important skills for business school graduates – and most say their importance will continue to grow.

    “The outlook among most employers indicates that business schools are on the right track preparing their graduates with the skills of current and growing importance to successfully navigate an information-loaded and AI-affected world,” said Joy Jones, CEO of GMAC.

    “It is our belief that business schools and their graduates will rise to the challenge in upgrading the critical skills of the future – be it cross-cultural competence, Web3 and Blockchain, or digital communication – to allow them to thrive in global, hybrid organizations and make a meaningful impact in an ever-changing environment.”

    In other key findings, employers tend to believe business school can offer an advantage over talent without a graduate management education.

    Employers from Asia and Fortune 500 companies have a more optimistic view of the abilities and advancement potential of business school graduates, but also are more likely to recruit more heavily from “leading” business schools. And as in previous years, employers continue to value talent from in-person programs over those with online degrees or micro-credentials only.

    “Graduates of online business degrees should talk about their credentials differently depending on the employer – employers in Asia are more likely to value the degree itself, while U.S. and consulting employers would rather hear about specific skills candidates attained,” suggested Andrew Walker, director of research analysis and communications at GMAC and the author of the report.

    “Micro-credentials in and of themselves are less likely to impress employers compared to graduate business degrees though the skills they bring are appreciated by some employers.”

    The survey also examines how macroeconomic conditions are influencing hiring and salary decisions across industries and around the globe.

    Encouragingly, even after accounting for inflation, MBA salaries in 2023 in the United States are expected to be higher than 2022 projections, while industry and business master’s salaries may drop.

    Despite reported recession concerns, 2023 hiring plans remain optimistic, with some anticipated growth in hiring among business master’s compared to actual 2022 results.

    Ben Ready
    Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (