MBAs give you a flexibility that employers love

IF there are people who doubt the value of an MBA, the Home Office isn&rsquo;t one of them. A few years ago it introduced a points-based system for those wishing to immigrate to the UK. The receipt of a Nobel prize, Oscar or an Olympic medal gets you 25 points. If you have an MBA, you get 35.<br /><br />For those who have aims other than immigration to the UK, just what is an MBA worth? It is not a cheap way to spend a year or two, though price rises have slowed. American MBA costs rose by 4.3 per cent in 2009, the smallest increase in 37 years. Information compiled by the Economist shows that at the top 10 UK-based MBAs, the average cost-increase for a course beginning in 2009 is 4.1 per cent. Two &ndash; Henley, and Ashridge &ndash; are holding their 2008 prices. Still, they are not cheap.<br /><br />Whether it&rsquo;s worth it depends on what you get at the end, of course. The conventional measure of an MBA&rsquo;s value is the post-MBA salary-boost. A top-notch MBA ought to double your salary in three years, although providers say that you would be foolish to rely on it, especially in the current market.<br /><br />An MBA doesn&rsquo;t guarantee employment, of course. Recruiters say that clients tend to see an MBA as a statement of ambition, but it won&rsquo;t trump a lack of qualifications. What it does do, however, is to help you change career. Some providers talk about it giving you a &ldquo;transformational experience&rdquo;, a phrase which has a whiff of psychobabble about it, but as Rachel Killian, Recruitment Manager at Warwick Business School, says: &ldquo;Nobody goes to business school unless they have a gap&rdquo;.<br /><br />INSEAD, a Paris business school, says that 90 per cent of people on its MBA course are looking to change their job, either in terms of function, sector or geography, and 50 per cent all three. It works, too: 80 per cent of London Business School MBA graduates have a job with a new employer three months after graduation.<br /><br />So why does an MBA help you to change careers? Peter von Loesecke, CEO and managing director of The MBA Tour, which organises MBA fairs, says that many people want a financial grounding from the qualification. Vital if you are, for example, an ambitious engineer.<br /><br />In short, an MBA gives you flexibility. There might be a perception that an MBA is a fast-track to a City career, but that has never been the case &ndash; at the peak, only about 30 per cent of graduates from most MBA courses went into financial services. In fact, they go to many industries, and about a half will at some point start or take over a business.<br /><br />Testament to this adaptability is that even in today&rsquo;s fast-changing job market, few MBAs are unemployed. Around 90 per cent of those who graduated from the top 100 MBA courses in the past three years are currently employed.<br /><br />While some might struggle to find work, it&rsquo;s clear that MBA graduates are in demand. Recently, the Financial Services Authority has starting wooing them, while in the US the Securities Exchange Commission, the Federal government and not-for-profit sectors are building relationships with business schools. Whatever else they do for you, those three little letters against your name mean one thing: that people will come to you.