Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young have begun to shed consultants as a result of reviews of their e-business requirements, bringing the number of Big Five firms to lay off consultants in the drive to embrace e-business to three in little more than a month. In December, PricewaterhouseCoopers announced that 200 consultants would be laid off to make way for e-business specialists. Although Andersen has so far lost around 30 staff – numbers on a far smaller scale that its larger rival, and only tiny in comparison with the 700 people employed by the firm in its consultancy division – more are expected to follow. A spokesman said: ‘Arthur Andersen’s business consulting practice in the UK has been increasing the number of people with strong e-business experience. We’ll continue to bring in people with the right skills set for the new economy and the changing marketplace.’ He added that it was ‘inevitable’ that people choose to move on, although the underlying theme reveals a pressure emerging on the Big Five to compete in e-business and remove consultants as necessary to make way for new media specialists. Ernst & Young has also been reviewing its consultancy arrangements with regard to e-business, and admitted to losing a ‘small number of consultants who did not have the specific skills to meet its very specific challenges’. But management consulting senior partner Paul Thorley said that the firm’s headcount had not declined. ‘The management consultancy division is continuing to actively recruit and by the end of the financial year we will have welcomed 70 to 80 new consultants.’ Deloittes said it was also engaged in a major recruitment campaign for e-business consultants but denied any staff would leave as a result. KPMG said it was retraining staff where necessary.
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