AIB cancels its graduate intake for 2008

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Allied Irish Bank (AIB) has cancelled its graduate intake for 2008, as the outlook for Irish banks looks increasingly bleak.

The graduate development programme for students who would have started in September has been "postponed", with the bank citing a "changing landscape" as the reason.

A spokesperson says: "Lower growth expectations has meant the number of opportunities has fallen away. We will be redeploying staff where we can, but the external recruitment is currently at a minimum."

Citi last week released a research note on Ireland's big three banks - AIB, Bank of Ireland and Anglo Irish Bank - saying that credit quality deterioration and a high exposure to the shrinking UK and Ireland property market will lead to diminishing earnings for 2009.

AIB is thought to be hardest hit by the property slump, with 80% of its loan book secured against the asset class.

The bank says that graduates destined for this year's programme had undergone the assessment process, but there simply aren't any vacancies for them at the moment.

Bank of Ireland's earnings are expected to slip by 31% in 2009, according to the Citi report, but this has yet to hit its graduate intake.

Last year, it hired 70 graduates and has upped the intake for October 2008 to over 100. A spokesperson explains: "Graduate recruitment is a valuable source for developing potential talent to feed future management and leadership positions."

Similarly, Anglo Irish Bank has no plans to halt its grad recruitment this year.

Mary Sweeny, head of the careers service at the University of Limerick, adds: "Back in October, the Irish banks were projecting an increase in graduate numbers, and from what we've seen, the appetite for graduates from the majority of financial services firms remains as strong as ever."

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