While several telecom equipment makers are gung-ho about the roll out of 5G services in the coming days, Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei has been cutting down its manpower in India, and from almost 6,000 (around 4,000 in Bengaluru R&D centre and 2,000 in Gurugram) employees last year, the company is left with only a few hundreds now.

Regained jobs

The best part about the employees here is that they were given a year’s salary by the company, and they have been hired by operators and competitors in the industry such as Bharti Airtel, Ericsson India and Nokia India.

Sources close to the development told businessline that many engineers and technical employees have been hired by Airtel, as these were people engaged in the 4G projects, and Airtel is one of the largest customers for Huawei 4G technology. The churning started around August.

Security concerns

Huawei has been out of any new projects including the trials for 5G because of government’s concerns on national security. In the recent months, the tax department has also raided various offices of Huawei in India sighting “national security” aspects of its operations.

“There are around 700 people left in the Gurugram operations (mostly carrier related jobs) and in Bengaluru also there is very less number of people left from around 4,000 engineers. They were given very good severance packages — many of them have gone to Airtel as they were already part of the existing projects and were familiar with their jobs,” a source privy to the development told businessline.

However, when sought details from Airtel, a company spokesperson declined to comment as it is in silent period before its quarterly results a few weeks later (most likely on October 31).

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson, though not answering specific queries of hiring ex-employees of Huawei in the company, said that growth of any new technology like 5G relies on the availability of skilled workforce and its deployment and success will depend on the workforce that is available and ably skilled.

5G related professionals in demand

“Professionals with an in-depth understanding of 5G and related technologies are therefore going to be in very high demand as 5G is rolled out in the country. At Ericsson, we have been future-proofing our people through various up-skilling and re-skilling initiatives including ‘Digital Academy’ for competence-building in technologies like AI/automation through digitalisation and data science, ‘5G Academy’ for employee up-skilling on 5G RAN, 5G Core and Cloud RAN,” Priyanka Anand, Head of People, Market Area South east Asia, Oceania and India, Ericsson told businessline.

With India being the second largest telecommunications market in the world and the phenomenal data growth that we are seeing in India, 5G represents a huge opportunity for consumers and enterprises, she said.

“To address this opportunity, the telecom sector will see a huge increase in the talent pool and the ecosystem to create resilient networks that will see ‘Digital India’ vision being realised,” Anand added. Similarly, Nokia has also hired many people who worked in Huawei for past many years. Nokia India refused to give any details sighting ‘silent period’.