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Cisco EMEA president Wendy Mars presents the keynote address at Cisco Live in Amsterdam. Photo by Arthur Goldstuck


Cisco to train 10m in 10 years

At Cisco Live in Amsterdam this week, a commitment was made to enhance digital skills at a massive scale across Europe, Africa and Middle East, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

Cisco announced during the Cisco Live conference in Amsterdam this week that it will be training 10-million people with digital skills across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in the next 10 years. Despite massive layoffs in the tech sector globally, a shortage still exists in specific areas of information tehcnology (IT).

Cisco has stated a 10-year ambition to empower 25-million people with digital skills worldwide via its 25-year-old Networking Academy. The academy has taught more than 1.5-million students in Africa, including 466,000 women, across 52 countries. In South Africa, 189,272 have been trained.

It has trained over 6.3-million students in EMEA, across 120 countries in the region, and has partnerships with an astonishing 5,800 educational institutions and organisations offering Networking Academy courses.

With almost daily announcements of massive layoffs in the tech sector – Dell announced this week it would cut 5% of its workforce – the programme appears to be delivering more IT practitioners into an environment that may not need them. How does that balance out?

Javed Khan, senior vice president for collaboration at Cisco, told Gadget during the Cisco Live event: “You want to separate out certain companies overhiring from the demand that we still have. There’s still a shortage when it comes to IT cycles. So yes, some companies might have overhired, but there’s still a very significant demand for these skills.”

Wendy Mars, EMEA president of Cisco, told Gadget that skills development remained a priority.

“Skills are very, very top of mind for Cisco as part of our broader strategy and purpose as a company. As society, as countries, as businesses, continue to digitalise, you have to make sure that people have the skills and the capabilities across the generations, across the countries, the markets, in which we all engage today. So this is something we’ve always been passionate about.

“It’s not just networking. It’s cybersecurity, Internet of Things, many, many areas. This is despite the fact that the markets continue to evolve; that knowledge and competency to use the technology is very important. And in Africa there’s an amazing opportunity but also risk, if people don’t have the knowledge that they need to be up to date.”

The approach is backed up by data from the World Economic Forum, which says that, by 2025, advances in technology and automation will eliminate 85-million existing jobs, but will also created 97-million new jobs globally. 

Guy Diedrich, SVP and chief innovation officer at Cisco, said: “We need a global workforce equipped with digital skills to develop sustainable and secure businesses, and more equitable societies. Building a local pool of next-generation talent is critical to long-term social inclusion and economic resilience. 

“It takes an entire ecosystem working together to achieve this. Through CiscoNetworking Academy partnering with local organisations, we have impacted the lives of 17.5 million students over the past 25 years.”

Mars pointed out that digital skills were in short supply across the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region, 

“Without access to a strong talent pool, it will be harder to continue the digital transformation at pace.”

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