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UK Telcos Could Shed 48,000 Jobs Over The Next Decade

With UK telcos looking to sharpen their focus on network automation, the country’s telecoms sector must brace itself for redundancies
As the UK’s telecoms industry looks at ways to boost efficiencies and drive down the cost of its operations, industry experts are warning that significant job cuts lie ahead.

In the UK, around 120,000 people are employed by the country’s fixed line and mobile network operators. This week BT made the first 900 out of 13,000 redundancies it has planned for the next year alone. While it should be noted that BT’s swathe of redundancies is being offset by around 7,000 new hires over the same period, the net 6,000 reduction in its workforce is symptomatic of a wider trend in the industry.

“Based on our research, more than half of operators estimate that between 20-40% of people in their organisation are in roles that will not be needed in a decade. That means over the next ten years between 24,000 and 48,000 roles could be lost in the UK alone, said Mark Newman, chief analyst at TM Forum

“It’s a difficult decision to make, but it’s one CSPs around the world need to grapple with in the next 12 months: re-skill or let go? It’s also worth pointing out that the availability of skills was also listed as a very serious barrier to digital transformation by about a third of our respondents – with business intelligence/analytics, big data, and IT architecture the most sought-after skills.

As telcos continue down the path towards digital transformation and network automation, the benefits are clear to see – less network downtime, faster customer service experiences and ultimately higher revenues for the operator. However, the human cost of this journey will be significant as operators across the country look to slim down their workforces.

“It is never good news when companies have to let people go, and often a downside of technological progress can be job losses. The truth is that one of the most important drives of digital transformation for operators is operational efficiency and cost reduction (we ran a study recently and 64% of operators classed it as “very important”).

“These stories are not going to go away – our research shows that many large telecoms companies are struggling with digital transformation, with progress slowing because of a hierarchical, slow and risk averse organisational structure. Moreover, this is not new news – already almost 40% of CSPs have significantly less or less people in their department compared with two years ago.

“In order to succeed in digital transformation, these companies need the vision and leadership to change their business DNA. Operators need to address issues resulting from organisational silos and introduce new working practices and structures that allow them to leverage these new digital capabilities.  – Total Telecom

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