BT has announced plans to cut its workforce by up to 55,000 by 2030, with many jobs set to be replaced by artificial intelligence (AI).
In its results statement for the year ending 31 March 2023, the telecoms giant said it would slash its global headcount from 130,000 to between 75,000 and 90,000 workers in the next seven years. It currently employs around 80,000 people in the UK.
Chief executive Philip Jansen said: “By continuing to build and connect like fury, digitise 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. New BT Group will be a leaner business with a brighter future.”
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Jansen told the Evening Standard that it will “treat people properly” and will aim to reskill employees. He said the introduction of AI could replace around 10,000 roles.
He said a “big chunk” of the job losses were expected in the UK, as fibre broadband and 5G rollout was completed and 3G and copper technology is phased out.
BT, which reported a 12% drop in pre-tax profit for the year to the end of March, aims to achieve £3bn in annualised cost savings by 2025.
The Prospect union expressed “deep concern” at the scale of the job cuts. National secretary John Ferrett said: “Announcing such a huge reduction in this way will be very unsettling for workers who did so much to keep the country connected during the pandemic.
“We have always opposed compulsory redundancies in BT and have been able to ensure over the years that any reductions have been achieved on a voluntary basis.
“Prospect has a partnership agreement with BT which governs how the company and the union manage change in the organisation. We will be ensuring that the partnership agreement is fully adhered to during any consultations with BT over job reductions.”
Hannah Copeland, HR business partner at employment law and HR consultancy firm WorkNest, said: “Workforce planning, organisational design and careful arrangements around succession and talent across the business will be key for BT. A focus on these areas every six months will help to predict what employee movements may look like over the coming years.
“They should be able to predict staffing levels based on current turnover and could identify where there is need to have a recruitment freeze. Doing this, plus management of the contractor resource, could mean that redundancy consultations would be a last resort.”
On Tuesday, Vodafone announced it is to shed 11,000 jobs over the next three years.
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