Five companies firing

1. BT slashes 15,000

BT has removed 15,000 staff this year primarily from its Global Services division, in a bid to cut annual costs by £1.5 billion. Problems started for BT in October 2008, when BT announced plans to cut 10,000 staff. In January, BT Global Services took a £340 million writedown due to poor "cost controls".

Problems at BT Global Services have been reported to lie with over-optimistic projections of multibillion pound contracts with the NHS National Programme for IT (last estimates had the contract valued at £1.57 billion) and a reported £1.7 billion deal with Thomson Reuters.

BT's massive writedown did not stop BT Global Services head François Barrault leaving with a £1.6 million termination package, along with hundreds of thousands for school fees, housing and pension contributions.

BT's most recent quarter revealed further losses of £96 million in the second quarter of the year, as the industry speculates that BT may eventually part sell the division.

2. HP EDS merger leads to protests

When HP bought EDS for £7.5 billion in 2008, job cuts were an inevitable outcome. HP initial estimates were to slash 9,300 from Europe, including 3,400 staff in the UK, following the merger of the two suppliers.

EDS is a major IT services supplier and holds large UK government IT contracts, including work with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Defence.

The job cuts angered union officials and lead to rounds of strikes. In late 2008, Unite trade union members took part in protests in London and Bristol as part of a European day of action also targeting sites in Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain, France and Germany. In November 2009, around 1,000 former EDS staff and members of the PCS union voted to strike over upcoming job losses, pay freezes and voluntary salary cuts.

HP has cut about 19,000 jobs from the services group since it closed its EDS acquisition.

3. Fujitsu on tenterhooks

In November, Fujitsu employees called off a three-day strike and agreed to extend talks over pensions and to delay compulsory redundancies. Fujitsu management and staff have been wrangling over redundancies and pensions for months, after the company introduced plans to close its defined benefit pension plan to future accruals. But Unite said the move would effectively reduce the pay package by an average of 20 percent for some 4,000 UK employees affected.

“The company intends to force this through by dismissing employees after the end of the consultation period in November, and offering them employment on new contracts which are unchanged except in relation to pensions,” the union said in a statement.

Fujitsu is expected to notify affected employees on 11 December, but has delayed any decision regarding compulsory redundancies until next year.

4. Lloyds back office 5,000 cuts

Since the merger of Lloyds TSB and HBOS, the bank has had a string of job losses. The tally of job losses at Lloyds Banking Group stands at more than 15,000, including 5,000 announced in November. IT and back-office staff have taken the biggest hit. Lloyds, now 43 percent owned by the taxpayer, is trying to cut £1.5 billion from costs by 2011. In spite of the cuts to operational staff, Lloyds maintained that group operations were “at the heart” of its business. The division was “essential” and ensured the “smooth running” of its business.

5. Loss-making BA slashes IT supplier spend by £24 million

British Airways plans to cut its workforce by more than a tenth after losing £292 million over the slow summer. The airline has begun a cost-cutting programme to rebalance its books and has reduced overheads by £400 million in the first half. BA has also dramatically cut £24 million from its annual expenditure on IT suppliers as it struggles with mounting losses. The airline did not disclose exactly where it made the IT cost cuts, but technology costs were cut back far more than in any other supplier. In its results, BA said the half-year costs of technology, accommodation and ground equipment had been cut by 10 percent year-on-year, to £271 million.

Five companies hiring

1. America, hell yeah

Not a company, per se, but good old Uncle Sam is on a hiring spree. Research suggests that the US will be filling IT positions in the coming months, as the number of positions expected to be created could begin to outpace anticipated job cuts in some industries. The sectors planning the most hires include the retail, government and non-profit, and enterprise and leisure industries.

2. Microsoft fosters UK jobs

At a time when most companies are firing, Microsoft announced a scheme to help 500,000 UK people into work. The Britain Works campaign provides free IT skills training, and aims to help persuade the partners it trades with to employ people looking for jobs. As part of the campaign, a new apprenticeship scheme will be launched, aiming to create more than 700 IT apprentices by September 2010, and more than 3,000 over the three year campaign.

3. Facebook loves a recession

Facebook, the world's most loved social network, plans to increase its head count by as much as 50 percent by the end of 2009. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with Bloomberg that the recession has helped Facebook, because there are a significant number of talented engineers and developers looking for work. "No one else has been hiring," said Zuckerberg. "It's been a great environment for us because the economy has helped out."

4. Home Office wants IT 007

Fancy yourself as the next James Bond? The Government is on the hunt for IT experts that can help fight terrorists and cyber criminals. The Home Office announced a number of initiatives to tackle malicious hackers and online crime in 2009.

The newly created Office for Cyber Security in the Cabinet Office, which is attached to GCHQ's headquarters, provides "co-ordinated protection" of the UK’s critical IT systems. Computer experts are needed that can actively monitor, analyse and counter hostile computer-based assaults.

And on a local level, police are creating regional cybercrime squads that work in a similar way to the anti-terror squads, linking up several police forces.

The Police Central e-crime Unit has been tasked to co-ordinate these efforts and develop the overall response to cybercrime. The unit, which has a £7.4 million budget for the next three years, is always looking for business experts and consultants, (although on a volunteer basis).

5. Google is buying and hiring

Google has announced the worst of the recession is over and the world's most used search engine is stepping up its hiring efforts. "We're very optimistic about the future. We now have the business confidence to invest heavily in the next phase of innovation," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in October.