Cisco launches 10-year plan to train 25 million people in IT skills

As Cisco celebrates the 25th anniversary of Cisco Networking Academy, the company on Tuesday announced two new certifications and a plan to provide networking, cybersecurity and general IT  training to 25 million people over the next 10 years.

The training will be done through the company’s networking academy, an IT skills-to-jobs program that provides IT courses, learning simulators, and hands-on learning opportunities, supporting instructors and learners in 190 countries. To date, Cisco says more than 17.5 million global learners have taken Cisco Networking Academy courses to gain IT skills, with 95% of students attributing their post-course job or education opportunity to Cisco Networking Academy.

Research has shown that more than 85 million jobs could go unfilled by 2030 because there aren’t enough skilled people to take them, while simultaneously,  97 million new jobs will be created by 2025 due to advances in technology and automation.

Alongside the pledge to equip 25 million people with a variety of digital skills, Cisco Networking Academy also launched two new certification programs. The first is a cybersecurity learning pathway, designed to provide applicants who complete the course with an entry-level certification and the skills necessary to place them in entry-level security roles. In addition, the academy’s new free, mobile-first Skills for All program provides students with self-paced courses, interactive tools, and career resources, all designed by industry experts.

The new certification programs join a wide array of certifications, including the foundational Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certificate.

Cisco forms educational partnerships

Cisco also announced several educational partnerships. These include a new partnership with Experis, which will focus on offering learning in areas like IT, cybersecurity, networking, programming, and data, where the demand for skilled workers is far outpacing supply. Cisco is aiming to place 1,000 people in new IT roles in the first year of the partnership.

Cisco is also building on its commitment at the National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit in July 2022 to train an additional 200,000 students in the US over the next three years by partnering with governments, non-profits and academic institutions.

Paul Chapman, EVP at consulting and systems integration firm Endava, said that employers globally are struggling to meet the needs exacerbated by skills gaps across industries, roles, and job levels, with a particular lack of individuals with the kind of skillsets needed by IT and cybersecurity firms.

“The solution is deceptively simple,” Chapman said. “Any talent shortage can only be resolved by people learning and growing, upskilling and diversifying.”

He added that while recruitment remains a “core methodology for any company looking to improve talent,” it only solves part of the problem. In addition to hiring, Chapman said companies need to be more actively investing in talent development, focusing on capabilities that already exist in house, in order to strengthen their teams to thrive and stay competitive.

In comments published alongside the news announcement, Laura Quintana, VP and general manager at Cisco Networking Academy, said that for 25 years, Cisco Networking Academy has sought to empower the underserved and underrepresented through the power of education and technology.

“We celebrate our silver anniversary with an ambitious goal to reach 25 million people in the next 10 years and help deliver on our purpose to power an inclusive future for all,” she said.

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