Telecoms giant BT is set to shed up to 55,000 jobs by the end of the decade, primarily in the UK, as part of cost-cutting measures.
The company plans to leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to drive efficiency and enhance customer services.
The job cuts, which include staff and contractors, aim to create a leaner business for a brighter future.
AI-Powered transformation: BT’s embrace of generative AI to drive further innovation
Telecom leader Philip Jansen expresses confidence in leveraging generative AI tools like ChatGPT to push the boundaries of service quality. AI adoption is expected to make services faster, better, and more seamless. However, Jansen reassures customers that human interaction will remain an essential part of BT’s multi-channel approach, with numerous avenues available for customers to engage with company representatives.
Technological advancements streamline operations: fiber network expansion and improved efficiency through AI
BT, the UK’s largest broadband and mobile provider, is actively expanding its fiber network while transitioning away from copper infrastructure. The completion of fiber network construction will result in reduced staffing needs for network building and maintenance. Additionally, advancements in AI and other efficient technologies will minimize the personnel required for future customer service operations.
Workforce reduction and job distribution: BT’s plan to reshape its workforce
BT aims to create a leaner business by reducing its workforce by 40,000 to 55,000 jobs by 2030. The majority of these cuts will occur in the UK, where BT currently employs approximately 80,000 individuals. The remaining 20,000 staff members work abroad, with a significant number of contractors also affected by the changes. The job cuts will be distributed across different categories, including network completion, reduced maintenance requirements, technology adoption, and restructuring.
Impact on the industry: BTs decision aligns with market trends
BT’s job cuts align with the industry trend, as Vodafone recently announced its plans to eliminate 11,000 jobs over the next three years. Both companies emphasize the need to adapt to evolving technologies and improve operational efficiency. BT’s strategic decision to reduce its workforce aims to secure long-term sustainability while delivering promised cost savings to skeptical investors.
Union perspectives: communication and workers union’s response
The Communications and Workers Union (CWU) views BT’s announcement as expected due to the introduction of new technologies and the completion of the fiber infrastructure. While advocating for the preservation of core employees, the CWU suggests that job cuts initially target sub-contractors and involve not replacing positions as employees leave the company.
BT’s job cuts reflect its commitment to transforming its operations through AI and technological advancements. The company aims to become a leaner organization with improved efficiency, enhancing customer services and securing a brighter future. While job reductions may cause initial concerns, BT believes that new technologies will also create new job opportunities as the company adapts to the evolving telecommunications landscape.
Tim Gilbert, managing director for Right Management, a leading UK and global provider of outplacement services, said:
“Employers are dealing with teams working in a state of hypervigilance and overwhelm following the uncertainties of the past few years and now, with headlines about AI-related job cuts adding to that overall sense of uncertainty.
“Although AI-related job cuts in communications and tech are grabbing attention, it’s helpful to bear in mind that UK redundancy levels have in fact reduced slightly on the previous quarter, to 2.8 per 1000 employees. Yes, we’re in uncharted territory in terms of the longer-term impacts that AI may have on the jobs market but one thing we can be certain of is that the business of being human is ever more important.
“For employers this will mean placing more emphasis on supporting the workforce to withstand challenging times; focussing on positive psychology and resilience techniques as well as providing upskilling opportunities to help employees build habits that enhance their talents and mental toughness needed to thrive in times of disruption and uncertainty.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.