Tuesday, February 03, 2015 at 5pm

Does the Manufacturing Sector Need to Enhance its Appeal? MBA News

Image concerns for manufacturing sector

The manufacturing sector remains a vital provider of employment in the US, but is failing to lure business school graduates to take up MBA jobs in the industry, according to a report in Bloomberg.

Just 4% of almost 10,000 MBAs graduating in 2014 who participated in a survey for Bloomberg Businessweek moved into MBA jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Despite the damage inflicted on the sector between 2008 and 2013, when an estimated 5.7 million manufacturing jobs in the US were lost, it still employed 12 million in 2013 – 8.8% of total employment in the US, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute.

The same report stresses the sector’s importance to the country’s innovative capacity, yet admits that the US’s integration into the world economy has meant that the sector has struggled to expand in recent years.

This looks like the sort of challenge MBA graduates were made for, especially in light of the sector’s positive showing in the MBA Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2014/15, where manufacturing is included in the category of ‘general industry’ alongside areas such as aerospace, automotive, chemicals, logistics and steel.

Employers point to manufacturing’s growth in MBA jobs

According to the MBA employers on which this report is based, progress in the area of general industry was a notable highlight in North America, with a growth of 12% in MBA jobs reported – 2% over the worldwide average.

This growth can be attributed to the repatriation of a number of manufacturing and general industry employers who have returned operations to North America in the face of rising production and labor costs abroad, seen most clearly in China.

However, it seems the manufacturing sector has some work to do before it captures MBA graduates’ attention – both aesthetically and financially.

Aesthetically, Bloomberg’s analysis centers on a perceived lack of excitement among students for MBA jobs in the manufacturing sector – it seems factory life just isn’t what students go to business school dreaming of, even if MBA jobs in the sector are unlikely to entail much time on the factory floor itself.

Financially, the manufacturing sector isn’t likely to appeal quite so much to salary-focused MBAs, with remuneration not among the most handsome to be found.

Together with engineering, manufacturing salaries of the kind reported by MBA employers averaged US$81,550 across the mature markets of North America and Western Europe in 2014, leaving it just short of the amount needed to make the top 10 industries for salary last year.

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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