MBA Employers Undeterred by Political Climate in GMAC Poll

86% of companies globally plan to hire recent MBA graduates this year, according to GMAC's new poll

Business school recruiters appear to have shaken off political uncertainty, as a survey of employers has found that companies plan to hire more MBA graduates in 2017 than they did in 2016.

The election to the US presidency of Donald Trump and the UK’s impending exit from the European Union have stoked fears that immigration regimes may be tightened — making it harder for international graduates to secure work visas.

Rise in global number planning to hire MBA graduates

But, 86% of companies globally plan to hire recent MBA graduates this year, up from 79% last year, according to a new employer survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). Demand for these graduates is strongest in the US and Asia-Pacific, where nine in 10 companies plan to hire MBAs.

“Despite the political uncertainty about the status of immigration and work visas in the United States and other parts of the world, companies are keen to hire graduates from this year’s MBA and business master’s programs, including international candidates,” said Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO. “This signifies the value these programs create for students and the vital role their skillsets bring employers.”

59% of GMAC respondents would hire graduates requiring visas

When GMAC polled employers in early 2017, respondents in the US, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America said their companies had no plans to change their hiring stance when it comes to international graduates of business schools. Overall, 59% of the survey respondents plan to hire or are willing to hire business master’s and MBA graduates requiring legal documentation (e.g. visas) — a gain of seven percentage points from 2016.

More than half of US companies either plan to hire or are open to hiring an international candidate in 2017 — up from 49% that had such plans last year. The US technology industry is the most likely to hire international business graduates. Half of tech firms in the US say they plan to hire such candidates in 2017 — a considerable rise on the 27% who said they would last year.

GMAC’s data suggests that Silicon Valley — whose companies are among the top employers of MBAs — has lost no appetite for the MBA holder, even though many tech companies have expressed concern over Trump’s immigration policies.

Many MBA candidates base their study destination on where they would like to work afterwards. Fears that international graduates will find it more difficult to secure the right to work in the US have led to a fall in applications at US business schools and an uptick in applications to schools in countries which are perceived as being more welcoming of foreigners.

Meanwhile, GMAC also found that 52% of survey respondents plan to increase MBA base salaries at or above the rate of inflation in 2017. The projected median base starting salary for recent MBA graduates in the US in 2017 is US$110,000, up from US$105,000 in 2016.

Survey findings are based on responses from 959 employers representing around 600 companies in 51 countries worldwide.

Seb Murray
Written by Seb Murray

Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.

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