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Light Reading's 2011/2012 Salary Survey

Light Reading

Looking for some good news? Try this on for size. Salaries in the communications industry didn't take a year-on-year dive in 2011, according to the data gleaned from Light Reading's second annual Salary Survey of more than 2,500 telecom professionals, including more than 700 service provider staff.

But here's the bad news. The level of layoffs took many in the industry by surprise. As a result, expectations for a brighter, more lucrative future remain low as the telecom sector searches for stability.

The data from this year's respondents showed that salaries began to stabilize in 2011, but layoffs were higher than expected. Even so, this didn't seem to alter our respondents' job satisfaction levels or expectations for the future. For the most part, they were just as lukewarm as they were last year. (See Light Reading's 2010/2011 Salary Survey.)

From the respondents, we learned:

  • More than 60 percent of respondents increased their income year-on-year in 2011, while 65 percent expect to make more in 2012
  • In 2010, only 15 percent of respondents thought their department would reduce headcount in the year ahead, but 28 percent of those we surveyed this year say their companies did make job cuts. On the flip side, additions were exactly as predicted, at 38 percent
  • Like last year, less than half plan to leave their current employer in the next year
  • And, three quarters of respondents were satisfied with their employer overall

Companies in 2011 were subject to increased consolidation, outsourcing and technology advances that made some positions redundant. Hiring in the communications industry took a hit, too, especially in relatively new markets such as India. According to a recent report in the Economic Times, telecom hiring has been reduced by 70 percent, with new positions reserved for top-level executives.

Consolidation, cutbacks and productivity gains
Consolidation is to blame for some of the cutbacks as many are still feeling the effects of past mergers, such as Verizon Wireless 's 2008 acquisition of Alltel. As we noted last year, the effects of M&A weren't yet reflected in last year's survey as most newly merged companies were still shaking out redundant positions. (See Calix CEO Claims Occam for Its Ethernet, Qwest-Century Link Gets OKs and The New Genband: Day One.)

Of course, this year, the most talked about merger is one for which we have yet to see the outcome. If AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is allowed to acquire T-Mobile US Inc. , it could bring 5,000 call center jobs back to the U.S., but would also inevitably mean significant job cuts. (See Sprint: Study Debunks AT&T's Job Claims .)

At the same time, vendors and wireless operators such as Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) have been busy reducing headcount as new technologies improve productivity: for example, online or self-serve customer service improvements are negating the need for large call centers. In fact, these days, corporations will buy just about any product that will improve productivity and reduce the cost of doing business, according to Randy Chambers, a recruiter with the Telecom Search Group.

"When they see an opportunity to lay off 10 percent of their workforce and maintain the same productivity, they’ll buy it immediately," Chambers says. "The more technology improves, the fewer employees needed to run the company."

Looking ahead
The story could be different next year as 4G growth spurs job creation. According to an August Deloitte Development LLC study, operators could invest $25 billion to $53 billion in the next-gen networks between 2012 and 2016, creating 371,000 to 771,000 new jobs. (See 4G Investment Will Mean U.S. Job Growth and Scarce Spectrum Could Set Back Job Growth.)

But this year, it's still a story of struggling to maintain stability. To get a sense of the employment landscape across the globe, and see how it's evolved since last year, we've broken down the survey into the numbers, the changes and the intangibles that made up the communications industry in 2011.

Here’s a hyperlinked contents list:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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sam masud
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 4:50:09 PM
re: Light Reading's 2011/2012 Salary Survey

No surprise here. Job cuts are up cause the work is going overseas. Salaries are cause the one remaining have to work harder and longer. That's it.

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