The annual graduate fair - tried and tested as a reliable way for British business to recruit the cream of university talent - could become extinct from October next year, business leaders in the Midlands have been warned.
The fairs may well fall victim to new age discrimination legislation due to be enacted in October 2006, guests were told at a seminar run by the employment department of international law firm Reed Smith.
From that date it will be illegal to discriminate against any person on grounds of age - whether they are young or old.
And graduate fairs - because they target mainly young people - could be considered to place people in older age groups at a disadvantage, Ranjit Dhindsa, head of Reed Smith's employment practice in the Midlands, confirmed.
Confusion and ignorance surround the proposed Age Discrimination Act, since with only 16 months to go before it becomes law, the government has given no details of what it will contain.
Because of this Reed Smith drew on its transatlantic experience to give human resource professionals from more than 50 UK employers at the event a glimpse of what the future might hold.
Ms Dhindsa was one of an expert panel which also included US employment partner John DiNome who flew in from Philadelphia for the occasion, and pensions specialist Michael Calvert. The seminar was chaired by Mark Hunt, head of Reed Smith's UK employment team.
The message from America, where age discrimination legislation has been in force for almost 40 years, is that it is "just another hurdle" for businesses to clear, Mr DiNome said.
He warned British business that every aspect of employment - recruitment advertising, benefits like health insurance and holiday entitlements that might be linked to age and length of service, career advancement, and redundancy issues - should be closely examined to purge them of any reference to age. He stressed that all staff involved in the recruitment process should receive thorough training to alert them to the pitfalls.