Some of the UK’s biggest agency firms have delayed their 2020 graduate programmes until at least early in the new year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

CBRE and JLL have confirmed that their September intake will now join the programme in January 2021, while Colliers International and Avison Young have also both deferred their programmes but not yet confirmed the start date.

Knight Frank is going ahead with its scheme as planned this month.

Savills also plans to go ahead with its graduate programme this month but has moved to a “virtual learning programme” rather than a face-to-face process.

The agency’s intake has been reduced from 127 graduates to 104 this year, although the group said the drop was not related to Covid-19.

Noel McGonigle, Savills’ human resources director UK, Europe and Middle East, said: “In 2019, Savills recruited 127 graduates and sandwich placement students across the UK, so 2020 sees a slight reduction in numbers. However, demand for graduates remains strong and we are continuing to recruit to the programme outside the central recruitment round.”

Avison Young, JLL and Knight Frank said their intake levels were around the same as last year, and Colliers said it had “not withdrawn any offers” made to its 2020 cohort.

Of the seven agencies contacted by Property Week about plans for their 2020 graduate programme, only BNP Paribas Real Estate and CBRE were unable to comment on whether they would be taking on the same number of graduates as last year.

Elaine Tooke, a lecturer and real estate careers co-ordinator at Oxford Brookes University, told Property Week: “With those who secured jobs in the normal round of things, we’re on a par with previous years, and I haven’t had any students saying their contracts have been torn up.

“But it’s the smaller niche practices who would now be saying they’re looking for a graduate – we’re not seeing anywhere near the same levels this year.”