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LONDON (Reuters) - Banks in Britain plan to continue to hire graduates and take on interns, while laying off thousands of more expensive employees, to ensure that an army of junior staff is available when business picks up.
Financial companies worldwide have announced at least 290,000 job cuts since August 2007. Britain's Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has forecast that a further 34,000 financial jobs could go in London this year.
But young blood is still in demand.
"We have learned from experience that closing the (graduate) pipeline in certain businesses as a knee-jerk reaction is a mistake because it leaves us without enough talent coming up internally," said Celia Connolly, head of analyst and associate management at U.S. bank J.P. Morgan.
Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank said they are still hiring for graduate positions and internships.
"Investment banks will need employees in two or three years when the recession ends. So now is the time to fly the flag," said Jonathan Black, director of the careers service at England's elite Oxford University.
Amanda Thomson of The Big Choice, an online graduate recruitment service, said adverts for business and finance jobs were still coming in, adding that she had seen vacancies drop only in the construction sector.
But bright young things are not completely immune to the credit crisis as some banks take on fewer graduates and hire for junior positions from the pool of recent interns.
Fiona Sandford, head of careers at the London School of Economics, said many banks had abandoned recruiting on campus for full-time positions for 2009.
"But they want to keep their graduate pipeline open so they take on interns who could then work for them in 2010, should an economic upturn happen," Sandford said.
Competition for graduate jobs in banking is getting tougher, recruiters say, not least because some of the major recruiters, such as Lehman Brothers, have vanished, while others, including Merrill Lynch, have been swallowed up by rivals.
"Obviously there are concerns about finding jobs in investment banks, but at least we can get internships for the summer," said Abhijit Chinai, a first-year graduate student at the London Business School.
Additional reporting by Olesya Dmitracova; editing by Karen Foster