Fri, Nov 15, 2002 - Page 10 News List

An MBA may not be key to a new job

MODERN PROBLEMS Employment experts say that if you're unemployed, going overseas and spending a wad on an advanced degree in business isn't going to help

By Annabel Lue  /  STAFF REPORTER

Obtaining a master's degree does not guarantee future job prospects, while solid work experience does, employment industry experts said yesterday.

"The belief that you will increase your employment opportunities by getting a master's degree is wrong," said Rocky Yang (楊基寬), general manager of 104 Job Bank Corp (104人力銀行).

In fact, the percentage of recent master's-degree graduates in Taiwan that found jobs lags behind both university graduates and college graduates. According to Job Bank statistics, only 48 percent of recent master's degree graduates found work compared to 49 percent for university grads and 50 percent for two-year college graduates.

Yang made the remarks to coincide with an education fair held in Taipei yesterday to promote overseas MBA programs. The promotion, coined the World MBA Tour, is making its first visit to Taiwan.

Recruitment officials representing 55 foreign universities, including Columbia University, Cambridge University and the Wharton School of Business under the University of Pennsylvania.

More than 600 people turned up for the fair.

"I think having a bachelor's degree is not competitive enough to find a decent job in today's market," said Audrey Lin (林堅白), 23, a business administration department senior at National Dong Hwa University.

Lin, like many Taiwanese, was encouraged by her parents to go abroad and obtain an MBA as an investment in her future.

Yang, however, said that the local attraction to advanced degrees is misinformed.

"A job seeker with no work experience will not turn out to be very valuable, even if he or she spends two years in an MBA program," he said.

For those that plan to make the US$8,000 to US$35,000 annual investment in pursuit of an MBA overseas, the best way to increase future job prospects may be to choose the right area of study.

"People with a background in computer science or electrical engineering are always hot," said Wayne Shiah (夏瑋), s spokesman from 1111 Job Bank (1111人力銀行).

But the standard MBA degree in finance or marketing may prove to be a poor choice Shiah said, since the programs often offer only a broad overview of management practices and no specialization, Shiah said.

Opportunities for MBA graduates at banks and marketing firms have dwindled in recent years since these sectors are now consolidating and firing staff, Shiah said.

For some, advanced education offers an alternative to entering the workforce.

According to 104, in the first half of last year, only 0.04 percent of university graduates chose to pursue a master's degree immediately after graduation, while that figure rose to 0.1 percent in the third quarter of this year.

"School is not a sensible shelter for unemployed people," Yang said.

One should gain an edge by sticking to the workplace and gaining experience rather than go back to school, he said.

"MBA degrees are more suitable for people who already have jobs and are seeking promotions," Yang said.

A World MBA Tour said work experience is vital.

"Applicants with at least three years' working experience are preferred, said Monisha Saldanha, an official with the World MBA Tour and a Harvard Business School graduate.

Companies hiring MBAs for US and European companies want experienced employees, she said. If you don't have a strong work background before going into an MBA program, you won't get the job you want afterward, Saldanha said.

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