Sweet temptation for employers

Projections for 2012 suggest firms aim to hire management graduates, making such degrees more valuable than ever

Europe might be heading for a mild recession and unemployment may be climbing in the UK, but there is some brighter news for business graduates. A survey of employers conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has found that graduates of MBA programmes and other Masters degrees related to business could find their job prospects improve in 2012.

GMAC oversees the graduate management admission test for business school applicants. Every year, it canvasses companies and organisations throughout the world about job prospects and salaries for those with business-related degrees. The most recent study consulted 216 companies and organisations and found a notable increase in those planning to hire recently graduated management students in the coming year.

The headline figures are encouraging: nearly three-quarters of the companies surveyed plan to hire MBAs in 2012, up from 58 per cent in 2011. Nearly four times as many companies are planning to increase the number of MBAs they hire in 2012, while more than half of employers expect to recruit people with a Masters in management or another specialised subject. Overall, there may also be more jobs out there for business school graduates. The survey reveals that companies plan to boost the number of positions available in 2012. The barometer is rising for remuneration too: 32 per cent of companies aim to increase salaries for MBAs joining them, and 65 per cent are planning to keep starting salaries at the same level as 2011.

"These figures bear out the fact that, in recessionary times, you can only cut costs so far," explains Dave Wilson, CEO of GMAC, talking from its headquarters in the USA. "What we are seeing in the marketplace here, and I suspect in Europe also, is that companies have cut as far as the bone and can go no further. As they start to grow and retool, they will need to bring in the best possible talent. That's where the MBA and Masters graduates become particularly attractive in providing exceptional players who can come in hitting the ground running. If you can bring someone in on 3 January who starts being productive immediately, it makes sound economic sense. While much of the world grapples with economic uncertainty, our survey shows there is cautious optimism in the market that we are starting to come out of the economic downturn. When that happens, you have to have players who are going to grow and thrive with that market. If hiring projections for this coming year remain robust, the class of 2012 can look forward to entering a markedly improved job market when they graduate."

Although the majority of the companies responding were based in the USA, Wilson believes the survey still has value for graduates applying for jobs in Europe. "The jobless recovery in the US is starting to happen and companies are looking to grow. It's true that the US is a little more optimistic than Europe, yet many of the American companies surveyed recruit worldwide. I also feel upbeat about the European job scene too."

The view from a major recruiter of graduates in the UK appears to support Wilson's level of optimism. Paul Stephenson, graduate recruitment partner at the accountancy and professional services group Deloitte, explains: "The 2011/12 recruitment season has been a positive one for us and the firm's potential recruits. During the downturn, Deloitte's hiring targets for graduates stayed at approximately the same level and over the past two years have increased to 1,200. We offer careers in 21 offices across the UK and have seen an increase in applications."

When Deloitte's buoyant analysis is seen together with activity it has observed from other employers, Stephenson believes it suggests that the market is on course to "returning to pre-recession levels".

Going for an MBA or any business-related Masters is a big investment in both time and money, particularly when the effects of the global downturn are still being felt. There may be better news for graduates entering this year's job market, but as Wilson points out, anyone who is considering applying for a graduate management degree course should always carry out a thorough economic analysis, including an evaluation of the potential return on the hefty investment it would require.

Hard on the heels of the employers' survey, GMAC has just released the findings of its alumni perspectives survey, which can help those considering applying for business Masters to make a more informed decision. More than 4,000 alumni responded from all over the world and graduates reported that they had recouped one third of the financial investment in their degree within the first year of completing their course, and 100 per cent after four years in the workplace.

European graduates earned the highest starting salaries, with an average of $84,000 (£54,000). Significantly, three out of four alumni of the class of 2011 who are currently in a job report that they could not have obtained that job without having earned their graduate management degree.

The findings of these surveys could be good news for self-funding students, whose numbers appear to be rising. At the University of Bath School of Management, for example, the fees of 45 per cent of participants in the executive MBA are not paid by companies. As Maggi Preddy, MBA admissions manager at Bath, sees it: "Managers today are willing to invest more in developing their own human capital, particularly in areas that pay off immediately, such as improving conflict resolution skills and key management competencies. We see this as an important trend for the executive MBA in particular."

According to Wilson: "One of the advantages of the MBA in general is that it gives you one more credential in your portfolio. It tells a potential employer that this is the kind of person who has made an investment in his or her intellectual capital. In tough times, that investment becomes even more valuable to enable you to distinguish yourself from the competition and increase your street value. These survey results demonstrate that a graduate management degree is, in fact, a solid investment in your future whichever way the economy turns."

News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Life and Style
fashionOne man takes the hipster trend to the next level
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

FDM Group: Business and Technical IT Consultants – London, Manchester, Glasgow

21,000-24,000: FDM Group: Kick-start your career and join FDM’s award-winning ...

FDM Group: Business and Technical IT Consultants – Birmingham

21,000-24,000: FDM Group: Kick-start your career and join FDM’s award-winning ...

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'