Cisco Initiatives Help Ukraine Workforce Stock up with IT and Entrepreneurial Skills
July 6, 2009
By Mike Stone
The economy has not been kind to any nation in recent monthsand Ukraine is no exception. Recently, the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for gross domestic product growth in the country to minus twelve percent.
But Ukrainians can take heart from the fact that when the economic gloom lifts their country will be ideally placed to make the transition from a manufacturing to a service-based economy, thanks in part to IT and entrepreneurship skills being imparted two Cisco programs.
The Networking Academy has been supporting Ukraine's IT industry development since the end of 1999. In that time, 60 active Networking Academies have been opened at universities, colleges and schools in 18 regions, including the Republic of Crimea.
These Academies have boosted the IT labor market with about 9000 certified graduates, many of whom have since gone on to support Ukraine's growth in information and communications technology through jobs in the industry.
Almost 1800 people graduated in 2007-8 alone, and currently Networking Academies are training more than 6100 students a year in Ukraine.
"This partnership will give more possibilities for searching for talented students and helping them in their further employment"
Among them there are not only school pupils, students and company network administrators, but also IT experts from the parliament, the cabinet of ministers, the national bank, Kiev's municipal administration and the state tax administration.
Of the 60 active Networking Academies operating currently in the Ukraine, three are in the nation's capital Kiev: the Kiev Taras Shevchenko National University, the National Technical University of Ukraine and the Ukrtelecom Training Centre.
Other important centers, including the Computer Academy, the Ternopil State University and the Kharkov National Radioelectronic University, are located all over the country.
A new collaboration
By developing partnerships with these educational institutions, the Networking Academy is helping Ukrainian schools and universities to prepare students to enter the information age. And as the country struggles with recession, it is also fostering greater opportunities for students.
One example is the Incom Knowledge Center, the first Cisco Learning Solutions Partner in Ukraine, which has helped to create a collaboration program for students, graduates and trainers of Cisco Networking Academies.
The main goal of this project is to create a professional community of networking professionals, aimed at improving students' proficiency and providing employment assistance.
Students of Networking Academies will be able to participate in joint events by Cisco and the Incom Knowledge Center free of charge, get special training fee terms and will have access to a Networking Academy forum.
Frantisek Jakab, regional manager of the Networking Academy in Ukraine, says: "Collaboration between Networking Academies and Cisco Learning Partners is a new approach to further develop the Networking Academy.
"It allows us to create an entire training ecosystem that can offer much more opportunities for both students and trainers. This partnership will give more possibilities for searching for talented students and helping them in their further employment."
Creating future entrepreneurs
Meanwhile, even though it has been in operation in the country for much less time, the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute has also been highly successful.
Less than a year since the Ukraine's very first Entrepreneur Institute was opened, there are now a total of 12 in the country, showing just how popular its coursesa combination of content-rich online classes and conventional lecturesare proving to be.
So much so that another 11 institutes are planned for later this year. To date, there are between 10 and 15 students participating in each course in the capital, Kiev, and the important urban centers of Odessa, Ternopil and Cherkassy.
Participants in the course are given a solid grounding in setting up and running their own enterprises, with in between 50 and 70 hours of workshop sessions over one or two months.
Special attention is paid to imparting and practicing practical business skills, such as strategic and business planning, financing, the development of venture capital relationships and the use of information and communications technology to achieve better business results.
These workshops have been compiled from a variety of sources, including Stanford and Cornell Universities and My Own Business, Inc., and were adapted to local conditions by Institute partners in Ukraine, including educational institutions and certified business training companies.
By the end of the course, students should have a complete business plan enabling them to start their own enterprise. They should also be equipped with the IT know-how to help ensure it is a success.
Here, the Entrepreneur Institute leads by example, taking every possible advantage of IT to enhance its students' learning experience. Remote lesson content is delivered through Moodle, an open-source learning platform.
Web and media-rich enabled tools and Cisco Internet technologies are employed to augment classes still further, bringing home to the participant the real-world lessons they need to learn to survive, and thrive, in the world of business.
Meanwhile, a mentoring program provides traditional academic support.
Each local institute uses this content and Web technologies to create, localize and deliver workshops that are further enhanced with a wealth of experience and information from successful local entrepreneurs, facilitators, and experts that are relevant to the local market conditions.
In the case of Ukraine, this means the content is not only being translated but is also being localized according to local business reality, through a joint effort from all the Institutes and Institute partners in the country.
It is a joint effort which could hopefully help improve the business reality in the near future.
Mike Stone is a freelance journalist located in Barcelona, Spain.