News Release

Cisco Community Academies to Help Edinburgh's Unemployed Back to Work

Cisco and Edinburgh's Joined up for Job strategy to deliver free training to unemployed and tackle local IT skills shortage
Jan 29, 2007

EDINBURGH, Scotland, January 29, 2007 - Unemployed people in Edinburgh will get the chance to improve their job prospects and secure full-time employment following the launch of a scheme sponsored by Cisco® and Edinburgh's Joined up for Jobs strategy, which includes the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, the City of Edinburgh Council, the Capital City Partnership, the West Edinburgh Community Planning Partnership and the Cisco Networking Academy® program.

The Edinburgh Cisco Community Academies Project will give free IT and business skills training to unemployed people and help the local economy to meet the demand for more technical skills, particularly from Edinburgh's growing financial sector. The project starts on 29 January 2007 and aims to enroll 100 participants in its first year. Students will receive expert training at Cisco Networking Academies, where they will have access to Networking Academy program course materials and equipment.

Through the Networking Academy program, Cisco has acquired considerable expertise and worldwide renown in the field of education and community outreach over the last decade. The program is set to celebrate its tenth anniversary in October 2007, and the Edinburgh Cisco Community Academies Project is the latest in a well-established tradition of community projects in collaboration with local government.

Andrew Mason won a place on the pilot Cisco Community Academies scheme in Glasgow and obtained full-time employment as network administrator soon after completing the Cisco CCNA® associate-level certification course. He said: "Without the Cisco Community Academies I might be working where I am, but I would probably be the cleaner. It has helped me get a good job, on a good salary and it's opened up many doors for me. The Cisco course itself was very well run and very challenging, particularly because it gave real-world experience in preparation for a job. And it was great that I was able to access the course near where I live. I think that what Cisco and everyone has done with these Academies is brilliant."

The project is part of Edinburgh's Joined up for Jobs strategy, designed to help find employment for those least able to get jobs. The Academies will be located around Edinburgh especially in disadvantaged or regeneration areas. Courses include Cisco IT and networking certificate, such as Cisco CCNA and a range of other IT courses, as well as opportunities to learn valuable work environment and inter-personal communication skills and support in curriculum vitae writing and general job search.

The City of Edinburgh Council is keen to maximise the Edinburgh Cisco Community Academies project by making it and its resources available to local schools as an addition to the National Curriculum. The project has already attracted interest from numerous schools in Edinburgh that wish to increase vocational training opportunities for their pupils.

Roger Horam is head of Partnerships & Projects at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, which secured funding from the Europe Social Fund for the project. He said: "Edinburgh has an objective of achieving 80 percent employment for the City and the Edinburgh Cisco Community Academies are an important part of that initiative. It is about increasing employability for those who find it hard to get a job. But it is also practical because, as a representative of Edinburgh's business community, I'm aware of an increasing need for IT skills in the region."

Cllr Ian Perry, Executive Member for Employment and Inclusion with The City of Edinburgh Council, said: "The Edinburgh Cisco Community Academies project will be one of the biggest of its kind in Edinburgh and it will extend the range of opportunities we can offer the unemployed in the community. The intention is to promote trainees from the programme into real job opportunities in the Edinburgh labour market and as employers begin to see the benefits in terms of a more skilled labour force, this could also act as a catalyst to attract further funding to expand this programme and develop other similar ones."

Jim Rafferty, chief executive of the Capital City Partnership set up to find sustainable solutions to social exclusion added: "Our primary aim is to help the disadvantaged back along the path to employment and financial independence. We like the idea of the Edinburgh Cisco Community Academies project because it is help to help yourself. It has the potential to use the demand for new skills as an opportunity for the unemployed gain long-term employment."

Cllr Ricky Henderson, Chair of the West Edinburgh Community Planning Partnership, said, "I am delighted that the Edinburgh Cisco Academies project will have its main base in Wester Hailes. Through partnerships of this kind West Edinburgh has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years both in terms of the physical environment and in increasing the social and economic opportunities for local people. This project with its proven track record of success should particularly benefit those people who have found it most difficult to find a job."

"Cisco has a long and well established history of using its expertise and knowledge to support and benefit local communities and help those people less able to help themselves," said Paul Wingate, Head of Public Sector, Cisco Scotland. "The Edinburgh Cisco Community Academies project is a very important part of helping Edinburgh's unemployed in a way that is both beneficial to the individuals and of practical value to the local economy."

The initiative is one example of a drive by Cisco, learndirect scotland and Microsoft under the European Alliance on Skills for Employability initiative to accelerate the delivery of vocational IT skills training across Scotland.

About the Cisco Networking Academy Program

Launched in 1997, the Cisco Networking Academy Program is a partnership between Cisco, education, business, government and community organisations around the world, aimed at nurturing IT professionals. The education program employs an e-learning model, using a combination of Web-based and instructor-led training along with a hands-on lab environment to teach students how to design, build and maintain computer networks. In Europe and Emerging Markets there are currently have just under 300,000 students enrolled at over 4,600 Academies. Since the program's inception, almost one quarter of a million people have graduated in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Latin America.

The Cisco Networking Academy Program will be celebrating its ten year anniversary with a number of events and activities throughout 2007. To find out more about the program in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, please go to