The action comes as a result of Bay Networks' merger with Nortel and a major shift in the telecommunications industry.
As WRAL OnLine reporterTom Lawrenceexplains, the telephone network as we know it is changing quickly to an Internet-based network and Nortel is changing with it.
Nortel makes big phone switches at its RTP plant. The change in technology means new types of jobs and layoffs for hundreds of workers.
"Over the next few days we'll start notifying specific people that are involved," says Nortel spokesperson Mark Dill. "We're expecting to have that largely completed by early October and then throughout October the separations will occur."
The company is adding several new buildings to its complex, but Dill says growth will stabilize as Nortel changes from a telephone equipment provider to Internet-related products.
"As we transform the business we're looking for environments like this, like Silicon Valley, like Boston," says Dill. "[A] high-tech center where we can bring in the kind of talent it will take to shape the new company."
Dill says the layoffs are painful. However, the skilled employees affected should be able to find jobs quickly in the fast-growing, high-tech businesses in the area.
Kenan-Flagler Economist Jim Smith says new jobs won't be hard to find.
"I would be amazed in this market, with those kinds of skills, if there is a single person who's unemployed for a single day."
A large proportion of the layoffs will come from manufacturing. Management and research and development administration will also feel the blow. Nortel will offer laid-off employees several separation packages including selected early retirements.
Dill says he is already been contacted by other companies and placement agencies anxious to talk with those employees affected by the layoffs.