How beneficial is an MBA in the UK job market?

Written by Nigel Simpkins

Much has been made of the current skills shortage in the UK. Certainly, Brexit hasn’t helped allay fears in this regard. Nevertheless, all is not lost for enterprising people who wish to move their career to the next level who won’t be held back by short-term bad news in the press.

One of the better ways to get ahead in the UK job market is to have an MBA. But just what does it offer that isn’t present without it? Let’s find out.

Access to Senior Positions Where Only a Master’s Will Do

There are some positions where for upper management positions, a master’s degree is a prerequisite.

Yes, it’s possible to have attained the same level of previous experience without possessing such a degree, but few companies will promote to that level without the right educational background. Also, because of this reluctance to do so, it’s far less likely that an outside applicant will possess relevant high-level work experience matching the needs of the business and not hold a masters already.

Why Are Companies Struggling to Find in Executives?

The pace of business has accelerated. It’s also gone global whereas previously it was mostly local, regional or national for most companies. Depending on the industry and the products or services offered, companies have peers all around the world.

For UK businesses, they’re often finding it genuinely challenging to find the staff they can recruit who have the necessary experience to move their business forward. The potential employees either lack the relevant experience, aren’t well qualified for the position, or don’t have the right type of qualification.

It’s even true that sometimes they have the right type of qualification, but the reputation of the educational institution lacks credibility in bringing the acquired knowledge into question too.

What Does an MBA Cover That’s Useful to Businesses?

The course curriculum varies somewhat from one MBA degree to the next, plus there are often electives or pathways to consider too. Nevertheless, it sets the standard as a business degree of merit.

The typical MBA covers the following topics:

  • Communication – How to create persuasive oral and written communications that foster people working better as a team.
  • Leadership – Understanding how a corporate leader thinks and acts for the best of the organisation. The act of negotiating, creating solutions and deciding on a business direction and convincing the employees to come along on this journey.
  • Business Ethics – An appreciation of how businesses should act and behave under normal (and stressful situations) is essential in the modern world. Leaders must demonstrate the right ethical and moral compass and encourage the rest of their executive team to follow their lead in this regard too.
  • Able to Make Changes – Because new managing directors are regularly brought into UK businesses to fix them, being able to strategically decide the right steps to move ahead, plan and then execute the changes to heal a business is part of an MBA curriculum.
  • Personal Management – This area looks at presenting a confident outlook. This allows an MD or Director to be more convincing, get staff on board and push forward. Looking and acting the part, essentially.
  • Wide Network – The alumni network of an MBA graduate puts them in touch with people working actively in business who may be at a higher level than them. This opens the door to receiving guidance or to use them as a reliable sounding board for early ideas still in the exploration stage. Here, the better the educational establishment’s reputation, the more useful the alumni network is.

Does Where You Studied the MBA Matter That Much?

For companies that want the best people, then yes. Companies do pay attention to where the MBA was studied and the background of the educational establishment.

For instance, The CEO Magazine rates the top colleges and universities to study an MBA. Their 2019 Global MBA rankings study concluded that the Executive MBA program from Aston University Online ranked 12th in the world. Noticeably, they’re in the top 3 for UK MBA programs, which is even more significant still.

Company executives and recruiters for them read business periodicals like The CEO Magazine and take note of what the better educational establishments are. They take these rankings seriously, and so should anyone considering taking an MBA degree course.

What Positions Line Up with an MBA?

While it’s common to see business leaders with this qualification, that’s not it’s only application. Many people who have previously specialised into one department find the qualification useful for their career too.

Financial managers who have leadership aspirations see the benefit of studying for an MBA instead of continuing to increase their accountancy qualifications. Many investment bankers have this degree to present to major conglomerates and understand their requirements better.

Also, working as a Marketing Manager or an IT Director, having this type of qualification is never a bad thing to have.

Ultimately, to reach the director level in UK business, it’s tough to get away from the reality that a master’s level qualification is required. And among those, the MBA is well recognised.

Will an MBA Have Longevity as a Worthwhile Degree?

The MBA is well established globally as the gold standard for business. While there are other degrees at this level, it doesn’t provide the same instant recognition. Most recruiters for British firms appreciate the MBA and its validity across broad business industries. Whereas with another master’s on a different subject matter, it’s harder to tie in its relevance, especially for senior management or managing director leadership roles.

In early 2020, it’s an uncertain time in the UK. There are the lingering Brexit issues and now the coronavirus is grabbing headlines. For people interested in improving their career, they must step aside from the daily headlines and focus on their future. Companies always need more qualified (not less qualified), better experienced and adaptable people who are driven to succeed. Investing in yourself is never a bad idea, especially in the face of such uncertainty elsewhere. Companies go back to what they know and trust. And in this case, an MBA on a CV fits the bill perfectly.