MBA Jobs: What does 2014 hold?

A 14% global rise in the number of MBA jobs across the globe and nearly across the board improvements in salary and bonus levels will make the 2013/14 QS Jobs & Salary Trends Report a pleasing read for those with a stake in the world of business education.

The growth seen in this year’s report is in line with the average growth rate of 15% reported since QS research into MBA jobs and salaries began in 1990. There have been peaks and troughs since; declines in 2009 and 2010 standing as the most significant examples of the latter, though the 36% rise since in 2011 heralded a new age of growth, as confidence in economic recovery took hold.
But if there’s one takeaway from the events of the past few years, it’s that we can never take for granted that things will remain as they were. So, QS research attempts, as far as is possible, to get an idea of what we can expect from the future by asking the employers on whose responses the report is based about their future hiring plans.
So, what does 2014 hold?
US & Canada and Western Europe: Economic recovery inspires growth
For the two most economically powerful regions of the world, the past few years have been relatively slow in the terms of MBA jobs. The 2013/14 report indicates a modest 2% growth in the US & Canada, and an even smaller 1% for Western Europe.
But it seems like 2014 might be the year that this changes, as the shoots of economic recovery begin to bear fruit. In the US & Canada, growth rates of 16% are forecasted, and though Western Europe’s figure of 6% may be more modest, it is at a positive indication of things to come as well as significant improvement in itself.
In the US, growth has been slow due to a slow and uncertain economic recovery. However, that looks set to change, with the stabilization of financial services and the booming technology sector driving growth, as well as recovery in some manufacturing industries. New companies and those only just beginning to look to MBAs will also continue to play a part.
In Western Europe the picture is as multifaceted as you would expect from this diverse continent. Germany remains a powerhouse, as does Scandinavia, while Italy – driven by a notably strong performance by the automotive sector – is this year’s surprise package. A resurgent financial services industry in London also means the UK continues to perform.
However, Spain, Greece and Ireland are still struggling, with growth either remaining flat or declining.
Asia and Eastern Europe engine rooms of MBA jobs growth in 2014
With 20% growth in MBA jobs over the past year, Asia is really the standout region in this year’s report. We can expect more of the same next year, with a massive 38% growth forecasted for 2014. India and China, perhaps predictably, will be driving growth as employers continue to embrace the qualification.  The former overtook the US as the world’s biggest hirer of new MBAs in 2011, and the latter jumped to third place.
Consulting, manufacturing, IT/computer services, finance and micro-finance were the industries which drove growth in Asia.
Eastern Europe has had a quieter year, with 6% growth in MBA jobs. However, in 2014 the figure is predicted to rise to a gargantuan 34%. The automotive, engineering and consultancy sectors in Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic are predicted to drive this growth, while Russia and Kazakhstan are consistently strong markets in terms of MBA hiring. While economic recovery and the consequent growth in MBA jobs may seem a long way off in many countries, in Russia demand has remained strong, thanks to an energy boom and an expansion of the financial services industry.
The Middle East & Africa continues to enjoy strident growth in demand, with 8% growth complementing last year’s figure of 21% as economic recovery in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates continues. The overall figures remain low; though with 13% growth forecasted in 2014, there may come a time when this is different.
Latin America has also seen growth shift to a sustainable 6% after last year’s headline increase of 14%. Mexico – in which many US manufacturing operations are based – and Brazil are the key countries in terms of MBA jobs. Growth is spread across the continent however, as companies try to utilize MBA talent in order to internationalize. 9% growth is forecasted for 2014.
MBA jobs by sector
As predicted in last year’s report, consulting was one the hottest sectors this year, with 11% growth in MBA jobs. This is predicted to slow to 4% next year however, with the emphasis shifting to smaller boutique firms. Technology, which also grew by 11%, is similarly set to slow in 2014, with 5% growth predicted.
The industry sectors predicted to grow most in 2014 are Law (43%), energy (14%), FMCG (13%), and financial services (11%). The last of these remains by far the biggest sector for MBA hiring, accounting for 24% of MBA jobs, while the other three sectors are relatively small hirers of MBAs.
The most negative forecast is for aerospace/defence MBA jobs, which are set to decline by 1%, while no growth is forecasted in metals/mining as the global boom comes to an end. Only 1% growth is predicted in the pharmaceuticals industry, which only saw 2% growth this year. However, this represents a continuing recovery in this industry so this cannot be read too negatively.
So, provided nothing dramatic occurs in the interim, it seems that 2014 will be an extremely positive year for MBAs, as the economic recovery continues and more and more employers across the world come to see the value of the MBA.
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