BT to cut up to 55,000 staff by 2030 amid shift to AI

18 May 2023

Image: © William/

BT plans to become a ‘leaner business with a brighter future’, while there isn’t currently a ‘specific plan’ for cutting BT Ireland jobs.

Telecoms giant BT has revealed plans to cut up to 42pc of its workforce by 2030 and increase its use of emerging technology.

In its full year earnings results today (18 May), BT CEO Philip Jansen said the “new” company will be a “leaner business with a brighter future”.

“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,” Jansen said.

BT currently employs 130,000 people, including those directly employed by the company and “non-employees” supplied by third parties. BT Ireland says it employs more than 660 Irish staff and that the group has roughly 100,000 “full-time equivalent colleagues globally”.

The telecoms company plans to cut its staff numbers to between 75,000 and 90,000 by 2030 at the latest, though this could occur by 2028.

Jansen also told investors that he expects AI technology to replace around 10,000 jobs in the future, Sky News reports. Jansen said AI will help BT deliver customer service “in a more seamless way”, CNN reports.

In its earnings report, BT listed AI regulation as an emerging risk. The company said there could be “increased regulatory focus on governance and ethics” around data propositions and processes, particularly around generative AI.

In a statement, BT Ireland said a “substantive portion” of the reduction will come from subcontractors and that there “isn’t currently a specific plan for labour force reduction in Ireland”.

A leaner tech sector

BT’s decision places it with a growing batch of tech companies announcing layoffs, in a bid to cut future costs and focus on efficiency.

Earlier this week, Vodafone jumped on the current trend of job cuts, with plans to cut 11,000 jobs globally to become a “leaner and simpler organisation”. Medical device maker Cook Medical also revealed plans to cut 500 jobs – about 4pc of its workforce – worldwide.

LinkedIn announced another wave of layoffs from its global workforce earlier this month, along with plans to wind down InCareer, its local job finding app in China.

E-commerce giant Shopify also announced plans to cut 20pc of its global workforce, to prepare for a decade of “high velocity and massive change”.

This also isn’t BT’s first push to go leaner. In 2018 the company announced it would cut 13,000 managerial and back-office jobs and become more agile, in a bid to reduce costs by £1.5bn.

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Updated, 17.47pm, 18 May 2023: This article was updated to include a statement from BT Ireland.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic