Since 1990, what is now the QS TopMBA.com Jobs and Salary Trends Report has been surveying employers around the world to identify their hiring intentions, and 2011 has produced the largest ever number respondents. Over 2,140 companies confirmed that they are actively recruiting MBAs this year, from amongst the 12,000 employers around the world which responded to the original survey.
The QS TopMBA Jobs Index shows an overall 36% increase in demand for MBAs in 2011 compared to 2010. This represents a turnaround in MBA job opportunities from the 5% decline experienced only two years ago in 2009.
What’s new this year is the 57% surge in MBA hiring being experienced in Latin America, with the multinational companies planning for future growth by stocking up with talent, especially in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
The in-depth report also highlights that across Asia the trend which began last year is continuing as companies, and not necessarily multinationals, recruit large numbers of MBAs. As Professor Tom Robertson, dean of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania says “It is abundantly clear that the emerging worldwide economy is now vibrant with possibility for Asian businesses.”
But it is not just emerging markets which are picking up in 2011.
Table one opposite shows the percentage increase (or decease) in numbers of MBA job opportunities reported by employers in 2011 compared to 2010, by region and their expectation for the next 24 months. Latin American employers report the most rapid growth, with a 47% increase in MBA job opportunities which then tails off.
Asian employers report a 43% increase this year in MBA jobs followed by a further 19% and then 33% increase in subsequent years – making it by far the most dynamic region of the world – a doubling of MBA opportunities forecast by 2013.
In terms of MBA job opportunities, the developed economies of North America and Western Europe are also vibrant this year, with MBA demand increasing 24% and 21% respectively. The regions with the smallest demand also reported the slowest growth, in Africa/Middle East and Eastern Europe.
The surge in employer demand in emerging markets has inevitably brought about a change in behavior of international MBA students. A few years ago, an international MBA was a route to a new life in the USA, Canada or Western Europe.
However, in 2011 an international MBA is as much about learning international business practices and creating a network which can be a powerful career advantage for MBAs seeking to exploit the rapid growth of China, South East Asia, Latin America and other emerging economies. Mauro Guillen, dean of the Lauder Institute at Wharton points out “a higher percentage, perhaps as many as two out of every three international students, are returning to work in their home countries, or in emerging markets, rather than staying in the USA.”
Paul Danos, dean of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, explains the enduring appeal of top international MBA programs: “demand for MBA graduates by the great businesses of the world keeps increasing. As businesses grow in complexity and scope, companies need more and more skilled and well-educated leaders.”
Perhaps this oversimplifies the picture; in fact, emerging markets are playing catch up with the West, and many companies are recognizing that MBAs represent an important pool of management for businesses seeking to grow rapidly.
There is a viral effect as well. As more MBA alumni from top business schools have returned home in recent years, as they enter the local job markets, they seek to recruit other MBAs, often from their alma mater, once they assume positions which include hiring responsibility.
Table two shows the percentage increase in numbers of MBA jobs reported by employers in 2011 compared to 2010, for the top ten countries by volume of MBA hiring. The trends reported reflect the hiring patterns of the responding companies, year on year. The table provides a good indication of changes in MBA demand given the large overall sample of respondents to QS’ survey in each of these countries.
Indian employers reported more MBA job opportunities in 2011 than the United States, with one India-based financial services company reporting over 7,000 MBA job opportunities this year alone, and even more in 2012.
In India, MBAs are paid far less, on average, than in the West, yet their salaries still compare very favorably with less qualified local managers. The tendency for IT outsourcing and technology companies to recruit MBAs in large numbers is continuing across India.
Banks in China, Japan, Singapore and India are recruiting large numbers of MBAs. China seems to be maturing as an MBA hiring market with large numbers of opportunities in the professional services and consulting sectors, although these numbers are now growing more slowly than some other sectors. The electronics/high-end technology sector is also recruiting MBAs in large numbers in China at present.
The Brazilian economy is in overdrive, and employers report a 94% like-for-like jump in MBA hiring this year. Energy, manufacturing and banking sectors are major sources of MBA demand.
Mexico and Argentina are being used as a base for multinational companies to grow their Latin American operations. In Mexico, MBA hiring is spread broadly, but with a big impact from North American headquartered automotive, pharmaceutical and industrial holding companies.
Previously reported by TopMBA.com as being amongst the most popular firms for MBA graduates to work for, professional service companies such as Ernst and Young, Deloitte, KPMG, Accenture and IBM all report big jumps in MBA hiring throughout Latin America, with the biggest increases in Argentina. The attractions of Buenos Aires seem to be a factor for these professional service companies. By contrast the banking sector is less bullish and hiring numbers, though increasing are not showing a big jump.
The United Kingdom and Germany are the only European countries to feature in this top 10 list – a dramatic change from a decade ago when the same list would certainly have featured France and Spain.
The UK shows a big jump in MBA hiring, reflecting the dominance of the service sector, and the importance of MBA hiring to it. Yet banking, which remains at the heart of the UK economy, remains fairly subdued in terms of MBA job opportunities.
Germany is quite different from the UK in terms of the profile of companies hiring MBAs. Technology, engineering and software companies sit alongside consulting firms as the major MBA employers.
The business cycle plays a major part in the short term trends in MBA hiring, with local demand patterns fluctuating quite rapidly. But what is abundantly clear is that employer demand for MBAs is stronger than ever and the MBA qualification has a truly global appeal.
For those interested in the career benefits an MBA can bring, QS organizes hundreds of events around the world each year, aimed at informing future business leaders about the options available to them. To find out more, and see when one of QS' MBA events will be visiting a city near you, visit TopMBA.com's MBA events homepage.