Article: 2018 in review: Talent demands for AI, big data led to job cuts in telecom sector

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2018 in review: Talent demands for AI, big data led to job cuts in telecom sector

Mergers, price wars and demand for new skills led to disappearing jobs and creation of new roles in the telecom sector. A look back at how the year 2018 was for this industry.
2018 in review: Talent demands for AI, big data led to job cuts in telecom sector

The year 2018 saw major transformations in the telecom sector. Consolidation activities in this sector led to a wave of job cuts for telecom professionals during the year.

With the merger of India’s major providers Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, followed by Bharti Airtel gearing up to purchase Tata Teleservices’ mobility segment and Telenor. Moreover, operators including Reliance Communications and Aircel also chalked their exit.

Job cuts to remove redundancies

These events led to a period of uncertainty in this sector which provides jobs to about 25 lakh people. The ripple effect of these mergers is being felt by companies and might continue well into 2020, experts say.

Earlier this year, Paul Dupuis, CEO of the staffing company, Randstad India went on record saying that, “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 consolidation activities.”

The industry as a whole is redefining its focus on the skills that they require. That is the major reason why they are reducing redundancies and freeing up resources to hire individuals who are skilled in new technologies.

In just the last two years, the number of telecom service providers reduced from eight to just three. As AI and Big Data become the skills that the telecom sector is seeking for, existing jobs face an upheaval. Some experts say that these jobs are disappearing because of the changing demands of the sector as companies look to hire and expand in the fields of AI, big data and establishing a 4G network across the country.

When you consider the number of telecommunication subscriptions, internet subscribers and app downloads across iOs and Google Play, India ranks second on a global scale. The demand for telecom services continues to rise and because of a vast population, the demand is going to remain on a rise for a foreseeable future.

Robust demand going forward

India accounts for about 1.19 billion subscribers to the telecommunications market. As of June 2018, India has the second largest telecom network in the world, according to the India Brand Equity Foundation. This sector can be divided into several parts: wireless, wireline and internet services.

If you consider only the wireless market, about 98.14 percent of the total subscribers account for the wireless market. As far as internet subscribers are concerned, India has about 512.26 million of them.

It is safe to say that the demand for telecom services is going to continue rising. However, the types of services in-demand have changed from just placing calls to the need for a fast data and internet connection in remote areas. That’s why companies are focusing on hiring in order to expand 4G connectivity.

Skills such as building and maintaining a strong IT infrastructure and project management will be in demand. New roles are being created to cater to the new goals. For example, data team leaders, network installation experts and technical directors will be in-demand in the telecom sector.

Governmental initiatives

Moreover, with initiatives such as Digital India and cheaper phone and data connectivity plans, the demand is going to increase not only from urban India but also from rural parts of the country. About 70 percent of the population in India is staying in rural areas. As of July 2018, internet penetration was 58.45 percent. Thus, the demand in the rural markets will be key drivers of growth going forward in 2019.

Back in September this year, the Government of India installed the National Digital Communications Policy, 2018 which aims to generate about 4 million jobs in the telecommunication sector by 2022. One of the other major goals of the policy included attracting $100 Bn worth of investments.

These initiatives come after a period of uncertainty in the telecom sector. Massive layoffs, low profitability due to price wars, desperate mergers and exits have marred the better part of 2018.

Post this uncertainty, the industry is expected to stabilize and re-strategize talent acquisition efforts to focus on creating new roles, generating more jobs and getting more investment into the sector in the process, as is the aim of the governmental projects as well. However how many of these efforts will bear fruit in the year 2019 post the turbulence of 2018 is a question on everyone’s minds.

Topics: Hiring, Skilling

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