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Demand for MBA graduates seems to be on the rise globally. It is especially high in the Asia-Pacific region in recent years. In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, business schools with increased online features and the working generation that benefited from more flexible working styles may activate the MBA market further.

Latest research by the international nonprofit Graduate Management Admission Council suggests that 76 percent of all respondents that consist of 1,202 employers in 45 countries worldwide planned to hire MBA graduates in 2019, up nine percent from 2018. There was also a significant rise in the MBA hiring rate among startup companies globally from 45 percent in 2018 to the projected rate of 62 percent in 2019.

In the Asia-Pacific region, 87 percent of the companies surveyed planned to hire MBA holders in 2019, the highest share among all regions in the world. In terms of salaries, while European companies tend to maintain the same levels as 2018, most companies in the Asia-Pacific region planned to make increases, demonstrating high demand and evaluation for MBA graduates.

Companies worldwide have been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another leaving everyone to wonder how those figures may change in 2020, but interest among the global business community toward MBA graduates is likely to remain high.

Industry-wise, MBA hiring demand was strongest among companies in energy and utilities followed by health care in 2019. These kinds of industries are unlikely to shrink suddenly or be seriously affected by economic slumps. Still, it is difficult to forecast if the trend continues this year because of the impact the pandemic may have on various industries across the globe.

As of July 31, the number of coronavirus-related dismissals in Japan including prospective ones rose to 41,391 according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. Even those that are surviving without downsizing so far may become more demanding in hiring. The value of workers with high levels of expertise and qualifications like MBAs may rise especially in a crisis like this.

In the face of the pandemic, most public and private-sector educational institutions from elementary schools to universities and vocational training providers are striving to adjust to a new normal that requires people to switch to remote methods in all aspects of their lives.

MBA programs are not an exception. There are already a number of online MBA programs, but it is expected that the increasing number of business schools will start offering online MBAs or incorporate online features in existing programs.

Some employers may have preferred those who completed on-campus MBA courses to those who finished the online equivalent because of the experience candidates can gain from team collaboration and discussion, resources that they have access to and experts they can consult with.

Under the current circumstances, however, it is natural that both business schools and candidates look for online alternatives, which will help equalize the gap between the graduates of online and offline MBA courses in terms of evaluation by recruiters.

Companies are also facing a significant change in the way they operate and manage human resources. Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of economic revitalization, repeatedly urged the business community to ensure that each company has 70 percent or more employees work from home to reduce possible infection.

Less commute time will allow employees to spend more time for self-improvement. This change may serve as an opportunity for those who had difficulty finding time even for Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) courses designed particularly for working professionals who can only attend classes on a part-time basis. There are also both on-campus and online EMBA programs offered by domestic and international universities and business schools.

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