Graduates safe from layoffs - so far

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Investment banks in London say that this year's graduate trainees, now arriving in their hundreds, are so far exempt from the layoffs affecting other employees.

Several banks said they had no intention of following the example of the accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, which last week rescinded offers to 78 of its 180 trainees because of the economic downturn.

'Our graduate trainees will be arriving as expected,' said a spokesperson for UBS Warburg. The bank is taking on 260 trainees this year in several European cities, most of them in London.

Merrill Lynch said it was also taking its full complement of 250, up from 216 last year. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Barclays Capital said they were not turning anyone away either.

A spokesperson at one bank said: 'The graduate trainee scheme is crucial for us. It represents our future and it would be terrible public relations to cut it back.'

However, CSFB told its prospective trainees a few months ago that they could defer their arrival for a year if they wished, and would receive about 15,000 in the meantime.

A headhunter said other banks were applying pressure on trainees, as they had more on their hands than they wanted. The jobs were offered about six months ago, when the downturn was less severe.

'Some may find the training they receive is not of the quality they had hoped,' the headhunter said. 'It will be interesting to see how the banks proceed over the next few months with their hiring plans for next year. There could well be a cutback.'