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A brighter job market looms in 2012 for MBA graduates, according to a year-end survey of global employers released today by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

"Very optimistically for [business]graduates approaching the job search, more companies plan to hire across all candidate types in 2012," says Michelle Sparkman-Renz, director of research communications for the U.S. council that administers the GMAT admissions exam for business schools worldwide.

"That's a great sign for hiring picking up," she told a phone-in media briefing on the survey results.

The upbeat projections mark the first time since the council started its survey in the 2009 recession that a majority of firms plan to hire business graduates at all levels, despite global economic jitters.

Of 216 companies in the survey, many of them multinationals, 74 per cent said they planned to hire MBA graduates next year, up from 58 per cent of those who responded last year. Of those questioned, 87 per cent expect to hire graduates with a bachelor's degree, up from 73 per cent last year. In a similar pattern, 59 per cent of firms expect to recruit those with a specialized master's (such as finance or accounting) compared with only 38 per cent last year, while 51 per cent of firms plan to hire those with a master's in management, up from 36 per cent in 2010.

The survey is heavily weighted to U.S. companies, accounting for 74 per cent of participants, compared with 10 per cent from the European Union. Only 1 per cent of respondents are from Canada, though they include firms such as Air Canada, Sears Canada and TD Bank.

According to the survey, 22 per cent of companies plan to hire MBAs for a growing number of positions, while 11 per cent of firms expect to add jobs for those with a specialized master's. Only 8 per cent of those surveyed expect to boost recruitment of those with a master's in management.

Salary projections remain strong, according to the survey, with 65 per cent of companies expecting to hold their starting salaries at 2011 levels. However, as one measure of the global competition for talent, 32 per cent of companies plan to increase salaries for their MBA hires.

The use of internships is on the rise, with 69 per cent of firms offering paid work opportunities for MBA students, with more than one in five companies planning to increase the number of internships in 2012.

Based on other open-ended questions to participants, the survey found that employers are looking for candidates who, in addition to their academic qualifications, have work experience gained through internships or pre-or-post-degree work.

In 2011, Canada and the United States accounted for 48 per cent of 258,192 GMAT test takers, with growing demand from China, India and the Middle East to take MBA and specialty degrees in finance and accounting. Canada ranks third as a destination for international business students, after the United States and Britain, according to the council.

The full report is available at

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