BT is to cut up to 55,000 jobs in a long-term plan which will see it embrace artificial intelligence.

The telecoms giant currently employs 130,000 people – 30,000 of them contractors – with 80,000 permanent staff based in the UK.

The total headcount will be reduced to 75,000-90,000 by 2028-30 as it continues to make cost savings across the business, with up to 10,000 roles replaced by AI in areas such as customer service.

BT revealed the cuts as it reported £1.7 billion profit before tax in the last financial year, down 12%, with revenues falling 1% to £20.7bn.

It said the growth in Openreach was more than offset by decline in its other business units.

“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,” said CEO Philip Jansen.

“New BT Group will be a leaner business with a brighter future.”

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The Communications and Workers Union said the news was “no surprise”, adding: “The introduction of new technologies across the company, along with the completion of the fibre infrastructure build replacing the copper network, was always going to result in less labour costs for the company in the coming years.”

BT said its existing cost transformation was “on track” with gross annualised cost savings of £2.1bn since April 2020 against a £3bn target.

“Over the last four years we have stuck firmly to our strategy and it’s working,” said Jansen.

He added that its target was to reach 25 million premises with full fibre by the end of 2026.

Vodafone has also announced the loss of 11,000 jobs.

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