Cisco Networking Academy Celebrates a Decade of Cultivating Technology Expertise and Economic Growth
Canada Press Release
October 3, 2007
Ten years after opening its virtual doors, the Cisco Networking Academy remains a unique source of globally-available networking and IT skills training that has provided more than 2 million students in 160 countries with IT and networking skills. Cisco® will celebrate this milestone by hosting a 10-year salute to the Networking Academy in Washington, D.C. on October 2nd and 3rd. John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco, discusses the importance of public-private partnership to global workforce development with News@Cisco.
Has the Networking Academy achieved the goals that you set for it 10 years ago?
John Chambers: In many ways, the Networking Academy has exceeded the goals that we set for it a decade ago. We created the Networking Academy to give students hands-on access to the latest networking technologies. Innovative, network-based learning let them learn anytime, anywhere, and at their own pace, using the actual devices that they would be working with in business. In the U.S. alone, more than 460,000 students have successfully completed Networking Academy courses. Today we realize that this program fulfills a larger purpose by preparing our young citizens for the jobs of the future. Success in the 21st century demands a workforce that is skilled in science, technology, engineering, and math. By merging the strengths of governments, educational institutions, non-government organizations, and industry, the Networking Academy is facilitating the large-scale collaboration that we need to make technology education accessible and interesting. High-quality, readily-available education is critical to encouraging our workforce to develop the technology skills that are necessary to compete successfully in the global economy.
How do you see the Networking Academy evolving over the next decade?
John Chambers: We will undoubtedly continue to evolve our course content and educational techniques to keep pace with changing market and technology needs. In addition, we will focus on the impact that the Networking Academy experience makes on students' lives and their communities. We want to inspire and encourage students to pursue technology as a career path that makes a contribution and is also personally rewarding. So, we'll need to increase our focus on student outcomes and providing different paths to education, certification, and careers. We've already developed a new segmented approach to the Networking Academy curriculum to accommodate differences in student capabilities, goals, and environments around the globe. And we'll be looking at other opportunities to make Networking Academy courses even more attractive to students. At the same time, we will remain focused on our core values with a continuing emphasis on innovative educational opportunities that promote success for our students and competitive success for their communities and their nations.
What impact has the Networking Academy had in the U.S. and worldwide?
John Chambers: I believe there are two great equalizers in life - education and theInternet. The Networking Academy gives people a way to gain technology skills outsideof the normal educational boundaries. By working with community partners andproviding training over the Internet, we have helped individuals in urban and ruralcommunities, housing shelters, correctional facilities, and second-chance job trainingprograms become technology students. Graduates have benefited from gaining in-demandnetworking skills, increasing their earning power, and advancing their education so theycan help develop their local economies. Over the past decade the Networking Academyhas provided more than 2 million students in over160 countries with the IT andnetworking skills that are essential to succeeding in the global economy. Of thoseNetworking Academy students who responded to a survey, 91 percent stated they usetheir newly acquired IT skills on a daily basis, while 40 percent reported the program hashad a significant positive impact on their careers.
Industry and government must continue working together to ensure that there is a large pool of prospective employees to fill the demand for computer and networking-related jobs. We must also work closely with international development groups to ensure that the foundation needed for progress - connectivity, stable grids, and computer access - are available. This is critical for local economies, it is in the best interests of the companies that need skilled employees, and it is our obligation as civic leaders.
How has the Networking Academy contributed to the continued innovation that a skilled technology workforce will require in the Web 2.0 era?
John Chambers: With information so readily available through the Internet, it is no longer necessary or appropriate to focus our educational energies on imparting knowledge. Knowledge is plentiful, easily accessible, and increasing at an incredible pace. Our challenge today is teaching students how to sift through the vast pool of accessible knowledge to locate relevant data and use it in an innovative fashion that may cross company functions, regions, cultures, and languages to achieve success. Technology is ushering in an era where collaboration - across job functions, regions and cultures - enabled by networking and information technology is an essential skill set. An employee in Europe will interact with colleagues in India and the United States seamlessly on an initiative. Projects will be handed off from region to region as one work day ends and another begins.
The Networking Academy emphasizes innovation, problem solving, teamwork, global awareness, and communication skills. The Networking Academy itself is an example of the type of innovative problem-solving that we strive to pass along to our students. We are even piloting a number of initiatives that help provide 'soft skills' training that includes working with third-party employment specialists to help graduates with interviews and other aspects of job hunting.
How is the Networking Academy helping to develop and drive sustainable economies around the world?
John Chambers: The Networking Academy uses a consistent, industry-standard curriculum that is applicable to any networking vendor. Cisco believes that the skills students gain through this curriculum can help them drive long-term sustainability in emerging markets, and organizations such as the United Nations and USAID agree. These organizations, along with community leaders in some of the most disadvantaged regions of the world, support our efforts and welcome the introduction of the Networking Academy in their areas. In fact, the Networking Academy is widely supported by many governments and has been incorporated into the national curricula in some countries.
With this support, we have expanded the Networking Academy throughout the world. We have even established academies in areas with limited infrastructure using technologies such as satellite Internet connections. We also work closely with organizations such as Close the Gap and TechSoup to ensure that equipment such as PCs can be supplied in areas where it would otherwise be impossible to offer these courses.
Almost every aspect of business and industry is touched by IT in some capacity, and advanced IT and networking skills are critical to competing in today's global economy. In the next decade, Networking Academy will continue providing these skills to as many students as possible, so they can contribute to their local economic growth and success.
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