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In the best showing since 2009, 92 per cent of the class of 2013 graduates from full-time, two-year MBA programs reported they were employed – up from 85 per cent in 2009 – according to a September survey of alumni by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

A high percentage of recent MBA graduates are landing well-paying jobs, according to a new global survey, with the employment picture far brighter than in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown.

In the best showing since 2009, 92 per cent of the class of 2013 graduates from full-time, two-year MBA programs reported they were employed – up from 85 per cent in 2009 – according to a September survey of alumni by the Graduate Management Admission Council. By comparison, 82 per cent of respondents who graduated from full-time one year MBA programs found work in their field, compared to 74 per cent five years ago.

One explanation for the employment-rate difference may be that two-year MBA graduates typically have more work experience than those with a one-year degree.

"In a sputtering economic recovery we heard from employers earlier in the year [that] they are prioritizing MBA hires because they had to do more with less," says Michelle Sparkman-Renz, director of research communications at GMAC. "They want the seasoned MBA talent with the strategic skills to help them make their decisions."

Of those finding work after graduation, 57 per cent went into three sectors (products and services, finance and accounting, and consulting), with technology taking 15 per cent of new hires, up from 12 per cent in 2009. The latest data, based on responses from 915 alumni from 129 business schools worldwide, provide business schools with pointers on employment hiring trends, says Ms. Sparkman-Renz. "You want to coach them [graduates] for the hiring season to come and you want to set realistic expectations."

The survey does not break out data for Canada, but the results are consistent with hiring trends here.

"We are seeing pretty robust hiring," says Daphne Taras, dean of the Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Beyond the strong performance of her province's economy, she credits the growth of co-op programs (with undergraduates and MBA students working for prospective employers before graduation) for assisting recent graduates in their job search.

This year, Edwards placed 66 undergraduate students in work terms (the equivalent of two four-month academic terms) compared with 15 in 2008, according to Brent Wellman, director of career services at Edwards. In 2011, the school offered co-op to MBA students, with three taking the option, expanding to five this year. The school reports that all the students enrolled in co-op landed jobs after graduation.

"Employers value the co-op experience," Prof. Taras says. In growing numbers, she notes, Canadian business schools incorporate co-op and other experience-based learning into their programs.

The GMAC survey also highlights the impact of business school-trained entrepreneurs to the economy. Of respondents, 5 per cent identify themselves as entrepreneurs or self-employed. Significantly, 70 per cent of them have employees (typically two) and 78 per cent say they expect to add up to three new employees in the coming year.

Donor backs real estate centre at Haskayne

In 1979, Calgary builder Al Westman was wiped out by a high interest rate-driven downturn in housing. One year later, recalls son Jay, he and his father (now deceased) started again with $30,000 and one project. Today, Jayman MasterBuilt constructs 1,000 single family homes and about 400 multiresidential units a year, mostly in Calgary and Edmonton, indicative of a robust housing market across Canada.

With an eye to looming challenges for Canada's residential housing market – worth $126.3-billion in 2012, according to Statistics Canada – Jay Westman this week pledged $5-million to further research and a new generation of industry leaders at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business.

"Today, a lot of conversation [about real estate] is based on opinion but it is not based on research and fact," says Mr. Westman. "It will be excellent that we can have an institute that does that sort of [research] work moving forward."

He has committed $5-million over five years for the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies.

He hopes the "biggest benefit" of the centre will be as a recognized North American provider of third-party independent research.

Last year, with industry funding, Haskayne introduced several electives on real estate and added more this year.

With the Westman endowment, the school plans to offer an undergraduate concentration in real estate and an MBA specialty in real estate in two years, says Haskayne dean Jim Dewald, a real estate business scholar.

"The industry has come to us and said they want better educated managers," says Prof. Dewald, with intensification and thoughtful mixed-used development key issues for builders. He adds that the school is also responding to increased demand from students for specialty training in real estate.

New centre targets export growth of small and medium-sized firms

Companies with fewer than 500 people and less than $50-million in revenue account for 98 per cent of businesses and 60 per cent of the work force in Canada, estimates Industry Canada. But just 8 per cent of them have significant export business, according to Lorna Wright, quoted in a Schulich School of Business press release this week announcing her appointment as the inaugural director of the Centre for Global Enterprise.

The new centre will serve as a consulting, research and teaching hub for smaller enterprises to expand their global reach, according to Schulich in Toronto. Several founding members, including Export Development Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia and the Certified General Accountants of Ontario, are providing financial and other support.

With EDC, Schulich will offer its students a new certificate in managing international trade and investment and develop a national curriculum on "integrative trade" available to other business schools.

Schools deepen ties with China

Add two more Canadian business schools to those offering new specialty graduate programs in China.

In September of 2014, Queen's School of Business and Hanqing Advanced Institute of Economics and Finance at Renmin University in Beijing will offer a one-year master of finance patterned on Queen's current one-year program in Toronto.

Also next September, a new business-law program will be delivered by the Asia campus of the University of Western Ontario's Ivey Business School in collaboration with the China University of Political Science and Law, also in Beijing. The jointly delivered executive MBA for Chinese professionals features case-based learning on leadership and legal practices in international business, according to a press release from Ivey.

Last month, working with China-based schools, McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management and the University of Alberta's School of Business each announced new master specialty programs in global manufacturing and supply chain management and financial management, respectively, for Chinese working professionals.

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