In Rapid Rise of AI, Employers Turn to Business School Graduates for Human Skills

GlobeNewswire July 1, 2024

GMAC’s annual survey of corporate recruiters indicates high confidence, predicts strong hiring

RESTON, Va., July 01, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —  Despite concerns about inflation and recession risk, employer confidence in graduate management education (GME) and its ability to prepare business school graduates to be successful in their organizations has reached new heights since the pandemic, according to an annual survey of global corporate recruiters of business graduates released today by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). This increase in confidence was seen across key industries business education caters to like consulting, finance and accounting, as well as technology. The best news for today’s business school graduates is that employers’ appreciation translates into optimistic hiring projections, with the majority of global recruiters planning steady or expanding hiring in 2024. A third expected to hire more MBA graduates than last year.

Notably, employers’ renewed confidence in GME is reflected in the growing number of them who say business school graduates tend to outperform their other employees, fast-track to upper-level positions, and earn more than other employees, and the share has grown in recent years despite – or perhaps due to – the rapid rise of technologies like generative artificial intelligence (AI). With the attention AI has received, the responding employers do not necessarily believe the predicted changes have hit their workplaces just yet, with only 26 percent considering AI to be an important skill for current GME graduates to leverage in their organizations. However, when asked which skills will be most important in five years, AI ranked high across regions and industries. More importantly, employers consistently value problem-solving and strategic thinking as the top skills for GME graduates of both today and tomorrow, and these core competencies are seen as essential around the globe.

“As disruptive technologies like generative AI reshape the labor market and the skill economy expands, employers are putting a premium on strategic thinking, people leadership, and problem-solving while betting on the rising importance of tech prowess. To achieve success, future business leaders will need to harness technological advancements and possess the knowledge and experience to manage the change brought on by these evolutions,” said Joy Jones, CEO of GMAC. “This year’s Corporate Recruiters Survey affirms that graduate business programs continue to be uniquely positioned—and trusted for their ability—to develop business talent with increasingly relevant and cutting-edge skills, who are equipped to tackle new and perennial challenges with a balance of tech and human understanding.”

Confidence growth in remote working management skills does not extend to remote learning.

Employers may have grown more confident in business schools related to the changing context in which businesses and business education operate. Notably, about two-thirds of employers say the skills gained through GME are more important in today’s world of remote and hybrid working. This is almost double the share who answered a similar question in 2021 at the peak of the pandemic. The increase in valuation of GME is most pronounced in leading Fortune 100 and 500 companies, the finance and accounting and manufacturing industries, and in East and Southeast Asia and Western Europe. Understandably, organizations in these companies, industries and regions have likely undergone the most changes in remote working situations in the years following the pandemic and are more likely to rely on the skills of GME graduates to manage this disruption.

However, employers’ new appreciation for business graduates’ ability to manage flexibility in the workplace has not entirely extended to an appreciation for the skills gained in online programs. Overall, two-thirds of employers still believe in-person programs impart stronger technical skills than online programs, and nearly three quarters of global employers agree in-person programs impart stronger leadership and communication skills. But this year U.S. employers, who in past surveys have been the most skeptical of online degrees compared to other regions, are warming up to the idea that in-person degrees do not necessarily have a leg up on online programs when it comes to development of the above-mentioned skills.

Hiring projections remain optimistic despite recession fears and policy impacts.

Given the lingering uncertainty of the global economic outlook, more than half of employers—regardless of industry or region—reported major or moderate influence of inflation and recession on hiring but remain optimistic about employment opportunities for business graduates. Consulting, along with finance and accounting sectors, are projected to hire more MBA graduates while data and business analytics hiring are expected to expand the most in 2024. Regionally, planned hiring expansion is most conservative in the United States and the technology sector, whereas employers in Asia report the highest intended hiring across GME degree types. Employers in major markets in Asia, as well as Western Europe, also demonstrated significant growth in international hiring—employment of those who require additional legal documentation—compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2018.

“We know that international education, and subsequent international employment opportunities, brings tremendous economic and social benefits to a campus and a country,” said Martin Boehm, rector & professor of marketing at EBS Universitӓt für Wirtschaft und Recht in Germany and a board member of GMAC. “It is encouraging to see the positive impact of international student recruitment by increasing diversity and enrollment from abroad. We remain committed to growing our graduates of cross-cultural competencies and their global employability.”

About the Corporate Recruiters Survey

For more than two decades, the Corporate Recruiters Survey has provided the world’s graduate business schools and employers with data and insights to understand current trends in skill demand, hiring, compensation, and perceptions of MBA and business master’s graduates. GMAC, together with survey partners European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance (MBA CSEA), conducted the survey from January to March of 2024, in association with the career services offices at participating graduate business schools worldwide. GMAC Research also worked with a market research firm to recruit additional participants to make the overall sample more globally representative. In total, 931 corporate recruiters and hiring managers from staffing firms in 38 countries around the world participated in this year’s survey.

About GMAC

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is a mission-driven association of leading graduate business schools worldwide. GMAC provides world-class research, industry conferences, recruiting tools, and assessments for the graduate management education industry as well as resources, events, and services that help guide candidates through their higher education journey. Owned and administered by GMAC, the Graduate Management Admission Test™ (GMAT™) exam is the most widely used graduate business school assessment.

More than 12 million prospective students a year trust GMAC’s platforms, including, GMAC Tours, and BusinessBecause, to learn about MBA and business master’s programs, connect with schools around the world, prepare and register for exams, and get advice on how to successfully achieve their business education and career goals. GMAC is a global organization with offices in China, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

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