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"We will be a huge beneficiary of AI," BT Chief Executive Jansen said, adding that "AI is a huge leap forward."
On Thursday, British multinational telecommunications holding company BT announced its plan to cut up to 55,000 jobs by 2030, about 40 percent of its global workforce. Such layoffs are partly due to BT's adaptation to new technologies including artificial intelligence.
"There is a sort of 10,000 reduction from that sort of automated digitisation - we will be a huge beneficiary of AI. I believe generative AI is a huge leap forward," BT Chief Executive Philip Jansen said, as reported by LBC.
The company's total labor force, including both employees directly employed by BT and non-employees supplied by third parties, will be reduced from 130,000 to between 75,000 and 90,000 during the 2028-2030 financial years, the company said in its financial report.
New technologies will take a bigger role in areas like call handling and network diagnostics, making work less labor intensive. The company has also started the construction of national full-fiber and 5G networks, and fewer workers will be needed once the rollout is completed.
"By continuing to build and connect like fury, digitize the way we work and simplify our structure, by the end of the 2020s BT Group will rely on a much smaller workforce and a significantly reduced cost base," Jansen said.
BT's revenue for the year to the end of March was 20.7 billion British pounds (US$25.7 billion), down 1 percent with the growth in BT-owned broadband provision firm Openreach more than offset by decline in the other units. Its reported profit before tax was 1.7 billion pounds, down 12 percent.
Italy is allocating $33 million to help boost digital skills in the unemployed and for those whose jobs are already at risk of being replaced by AI. https://t.co/Pqh1WTHB0P
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said the job cut "is no surprise." The introduction of new technologies along with the completion of the fiber infrastructure build replacing the copper network was always going to result in lower labor costs for the company in the coming years, the union noted.
It, however, has "made it categorically clear to BT that we want to retain as many direct labor jobs as possible and that any reduction should come from subcontractors in the first instance and natural attrition," the CWU added.
Prospect union, which represents thousands of managers at BT, said it was "deeply concerned" by the scale of the cuts. Such a huge reduction will be very unsettling for workers, who did so much to keep the country connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, it noted.
The BT announcement came just two days after telecoms firm Vodafone decided to cut 11,000 jobs, about a tenth of its global workforce, over the next three years.
"Our performance has not been good enough. To consistently deliver, Vodafone must change," Vodafone Group Chief Executive Margherita Della Valle said. "We will simplify our organization, cutting out complexity to regain our competitiveness."