Over 60,000 telecom sector employees may lose their jobs by the end of 2019

This will be the second successive year of job cuts in the telecom industry. In 2017, Reliance Communications shut the bulk of its wireless business while the Tata Group sold its mobile business to Bharti Airtel. Both these developments reportedly resulted in thousands of job cuts in the telecom industry.

Over 60,000 telecom sector employees may lose their jobs by the end of 2019 as companies look to consolidate their position. The figure has been quoted by experts and service providing industry as well.

It may be noted that at least 65,000 telecom industry staffers will lose their jobs by March 31, 2019; these layoffs will most likely affect customer support executives and financial service workers, according to TeamLese Services.

Paul Dupuis, CEO, Randstad India, said consolidation in India’s telecom industry may impact 60,000-75,000 jobs and the effect may continue in 2020 as well. An industry executive, who wished not to be named, said the sector has already let go 15,000-20,000 employees in the last six months ending September 30. It may be noted that the telecom industry has been suffering significantly due to excessive competition, which started since 2016. Last year, telecom industry profitability was hit significantly due to the environment of a price war triggered by Reliance Jio’s price disruption. While some companies like Vodafone and Idea decided to merge, Aircel was not fortunate enough.

While the job losses will be led to distress among employees, the industry is now planning to hire freshers who are adept with newer technologies in a bid to stay innovative.

Some 65,000 telecom sector workers may lose their jobs by March 31, mainly in the customer support and financial functions, according to staffing firm TeamLease Services. These two segments are expected to let go of about 8,000 and 7,000 employees, respectively, it says. However, industry body COAI believes the worst is over and companies are looking to hire in areas such as artificial intelligence and big data.

However, industry body COAI says that the worst is over. “We are over the worst hump and now companies are looking to hire in areas like AI, big data and 4G network expansion. The first two-quarters of FY19 saw the worst and that is over,” said Rajan Mathews, Director General of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents the major telcos. The next two quarters will see a maximum of about 5,000 people losing jobs across the entire industry ecosystem, he said.

Paul Dupuis, Chief Executive Officer of staffing firm Randstad India, added, “There will be an impact to the tune of 60,000-75,000 jobs on the workforce of telecom service and infrastructure providers in 2019 as a consequence of the consolidation activities.” He further said, “We expect the effect to continue through 2020 with a similar number of redundancies for the segments mentioned.”

However, the reduction of telecom service providers has provided some relief and the industry seems to be inching back to profitability. There are just three major telcos right now: Bharti Airtel, Idea Vodafone and Reliance Jio. All three have strong financial stability and are prepared to incur a loss to stabilize and shield themselves in the long run.


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