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Cisco Networking Academy: widening access to digital skills training

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In this blog, Nuno Guarda, Head of Corporate Affairs UK & Ireland talks about Cisco's Networking Academy and their involvement with the Digital Skills Partnership to widen access to digital skills training.

female students at Cisco Networking Academy
There are more than 300 Cisco Academies in the UK

Creating real opportunity for all

We all know that widening access to education and career opportunities are the basis for improving lives, and our increasingly digital world makes IT and digital skills attainment essential.

Improving socio-economic conditions by giving people the skills they need to succeed in a digital economy lies at the heart of Cisco’s Networking Academy. This global IT education programme is one of our foremost corporate social responsibility priorities and supports IT industry and economic growth.

Launched in 1997, Networking Academy operates in 180 countries through 12,000+ partnerships and 22,000+ instructors. To date, we have trained over 9 million people and annually support 2 million students around the globe.

Skill sets fit for a digital economy

In the UK, more than 300 Cisco Academies work across schools, FE colleges, UTCs, universities, prisons, apprenticeship training providers, not-for-profit and other organisations. Our free-of-charge courses are delivered on campus or online and are available to students of all education levels. We manage course content, online delivery and assessments, and we help training instructors so that they can run classes, hands-on lab activities and skills assessments.

The end results are industry-recognised certifications that offer access to further education or entry-level/intermediate careers.

male student at Ciscso Networking Academy
Greater access to education and career opportunities is the basis for improving lives

Beyond the campus

Through our Ministry of Justice partnerships, 20 Cisco Academies provide education in UK prisons, and so far, we’ve established three Cisco Academies for police forces aiming at providing cyber security and other relevant training for officers, to help make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.

We’ve also made digital training available in hundreds of libraries across the UK and are determined to bridge the gender divide by bringing more women into the IT workplace.

Working with the Digital Skills Partnership

As you can imagine, we were therefore delighted when DCMS announced its Digital Skills Partnership (DSP). With so much common ground between us, you’ll understand why we want to make an active contribution. The DSP reflects our approach, bringing together public, private and charity organisations with a shared desire to improve digital capability, creating better lives and greater inclusivity.

DSP logo in black, white and red

So how can we help? Well, as you’ve seen, we already work extensively in IT and digital skills training and have the appropriate national networks in place to deliver this. So I’m really pleased that we’re participating in the National Coherence working group and the Computing in Schools working group, alongside the BCS, Raspberry Pi Foundation, STEM Learning, among other relevant participants.

We are also working with the Local Digital Skills Partnerships (Local DSPs) that bring together businesses, charities, and public sector organisations to tackle regional digital skills challenges. As each Local DSP considers its own regional skills shortages, we can help address skills gaps covered by the Networking Academy portfolio and leverage relevant existing local relationships or develop new ones if needed. Having already being involved in and contributed to the first three Local DSPs, I’d like to think we offer the perfect fit, and look forward to working with the recently announced trailblazers as they are formed.

Our pledge for a digitally proficient world

This is all in keeping with our Skills Manifesto, which reinforces our ongoing commitment to digital opportunity for all. Which is why Networking Academy will continue to support the DSP’s laudable and necessary objectives via our existing portfolio and networks - and in any other ways possible. And in turn, the DSP can support Networking Academy’s pledge to improve the digital skills of a quarter of a million people in the UK by 2020.

students in library
Partnerships between government, industry and educators are essential for delivering learning and enhancing skills

As I said at the start, developing skills widens opportunities, and this is only possible through accessible training. Partnerships between government, industry and educators are essential for delivering learning and bolstering national skills.

Want to know more?

Our students’ global and local success stories are heartening and inspiring – and demonstrate the power of digital skills training. Find out more about how we’re changing lives and communities by visiting our Cisco Networking Academy website.


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