Employers Say B-School Grads Need These 3 Skills

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The long-expected recession still hasn’t arrived, and that has employers bullish on hiring plans — at least for the near future. That’s good news for business school graduates, as the results from a new survey show.

The Graduate Management Admission Council’s latest poll of corporate recruiters shows that employers remain confident in hiring plans for business school grads despite unfavorable macroeconomic conditions and looming uncertainties — and while expressing confidence that B-school will equip grads with the abilities needed in the future workplace, employers place a premium on three skills in particular.

“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,” says Joy Jones, CEO of GMAC.

THE 3 SKILLS EMPLOYERS VALUE MOST

GMAC, which administers the Graduate Management Admission Test, has published its annual Corporate Recruiters Survey for more than two decades (see Poets&Quants‘ reports on last year’s survey and on GMAC’s 2021 report). This year, working with survey partners European Foundation for Management Development and the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance, GMAC collected input from 1,028 respondents in 34 countries and representing 55% of global Fortune 500 companies from January to March of 2023. GMAC published the report Wednesday (July 19).

Among its many findings, the report shows that employers value three skills in their hires above all others: communication, data analysis, and strategy. Most say the importance of these skills will only grow in future.

U.S. employers, meanwhile, remain highly interested in tech skills, but they think B-school grads could be better prepared on specific capabilities. U.S. recruiters — not only in tech but in the finance and accounting sectors as well — are also more critical of candidates’ preparedness to leverage important communication skills compared to other regions. And they think B-schools could do a better job building their grads’ intercultural skills.

“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,” says Andrew Walker, director of research analysis and communications at GMAC and the author of the new 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.”

Source: GMAC

U.S. MBA SALARIES PROJECTED TO GROW DESPITE INFLATION

Overall, GMAC’s survey found, employers tend to believe B-school can offer an advantage over talent without a graduate management education. Employers from Asia and Fortune 500 companies look more favorably on recruits with business degrees, and they tend to have a more optimistic view of the abilities and advancement potential of business school graduates. However, they are also 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.

Among the other findings:

  • 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.
  • Asian employers are statistically more likely to report fast-tracking GME graduates to higher-level positions while U.S. employers are statistically less likely to report this practice.

“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 meaningful impact in an ever-changing environment.”

Read the full GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey report here.

DON’T MISS 3 KEY FINDINGS IN GMAC’S NEW PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS SURVEY and FOR GEN Z, THE ROI OF AN MBA IS ABOUT MORE THAN MONEY

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