Telecoms giant BT is to shed up to 55,000 jobs by the end of the decade, mostly in the UK, as it cuts costs.
BBC reports that up to a fifth of those cuts will come in customer services as staff are replaced by technologies including artificial intelligence.
The headcount reduction from the current workforce of 130,000 includes staff and contractors.
“Whenever you get new technologies you can get big changes,” said chief executive Philip Jansen.
He said “generative AI” tools such as ChatGPT – which can write essays, scripts, poems, and solve computer coding in a human-like way – “gives us confidence we can go even further.
Mr Jansen said AI would make services faster, better and more seamless, adding that the changes would not mean customers will “feel like they are dealing with robots”.
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“We are multi-channel, we are online, we have 450 stores and that’s not changing at all,” he said.
“There are plenty of opportunities for our customers to deal with people at BT, plenty of people to speak to.”
Jansen added that “new technologies drive new jobs”, although BT has said it will have a”much smaller workforce” by the end of the 2020s.
BT, which is the UK’s largest broadband and mobile provider, is currently continuing to expand its fibre network as it moves away from copper. The company said that once the work was completed it would not need as many staff to build and maintain its networks.
In addition, newer, more efficient technology, including artificial intelligence, means fewer people will be needed to serve customers in future, it said.
The move comes shortly after Vodafone said it would axe a tenth of its staff over the next three years, equating to 11,000 jobs