Around nine in ten businesses operating in the UK finance sector have no plans to take on graduate workers over the coming 12 months, a new study has found.

Of those finance bosses polled by recruitment firm Robert Half, 91 per cent admitted that they have put their graduate recruitment plans on hold for the foreseeable future as a result of the general economic slowdown.

At the same time, those graduates who have already landed a job in the finance sector can expect an average pay increase of just 0.5 per cent in 2009, while 48 per cent of the employers questioned also revealing that they may reduce their levels of permanent staff within the next six months.

"Finance directors are clearly braced for the economic situation to get worse before it gets better," commented the company’s managing director Phil Sheridan.

"For employers, it’s a tough balancing act between cutting back on graduate recruitment now and avoiding a talent shortage when the inevitable upturn comes."

News of these latest findings come on the back of a recent report from the Association of Graduate Recruiters, which predicted that the number of graduate job vacancies in the UK will fall in 2009, the first reversal for five years.