This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
Cisco Systems (News - Alert) has long been a leader in the communications space. In addition to market share leadership in various areas of communications, its early identification of new networking trends, its stance on the front lines of new product development and acquisitions of companies that are addressing the next big thing, and its unofficial position on Wall Street as the bellwether for tech stocks, Cisco is big into education.
No, we’re not talking here just about using Cisco TelePresence and its underlying networking infrastructure to enable distance learning, although the company is certainly pushing that effort as well. Rather, this story is about how Cisco is using both in-person and online resources to help provide current and future IT and telecom employees with the information and tools they need to do their jobs, allow for better adoption of new networking solutions, and get insight into larger trends in the communications space.
For example, let’s say you are a network security architect and handle all intrusion detection matters for your company. Cisco offers a targeted curriculum for a person in this type of position to understand what it takes to perform that role in a business. Of course, this is just one of many defined positions in the program.
The company has about 300 different disciplines, including assessments, labs, online training and live sessions, and 30 different certifications that map to various job roles, explains Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, vice president and general manager of Learning@Cisco.
There are many initiatives that fall under the Learning@Cisco umbrella.
Cisco Learning Partners offers hands-on skill development in a live classroom. Beliveau-Dunn says Cisco has nearly 300 partners doing this and 250,000 people going through the two-week classes offered as part of this program.
The Cisco Learning Network, meanwhile, is the world’s largest social learning network, according to Beliveau-Dunn. It has allowed millions of customers to come together to research what they need to learn. As part of this effort, Cisco provides assessments and test practice so participants can better understand what they need to know based on their role. It enables folks in similar positions at various companies talk to each other about solving problems. And there’s a bunch of information on The Cisco Learning Network that you can use whether you’re looking to get an introduction to the latest technology, here experts talk about key aspects of new technologies or look at job listings.
The Network Academy, meanwhile, is Cisco’s way of infusing network basics, etc., into community colleges and high schools, explains Beliveau-Dunn. Colleges and universities can sign up to participate in this program, and those schools have to have their own teachers to champion these efforts.
The Cisco education packages, which focus on job requirements rather than specific products, are sold at various price points and modalities. Sometimes they’re bundled as part of a customer’s purchase of Cisco gear, but that’s not a prerequisite.
Beliveau-Dunn says Cisco’s aim is “to remove the barriers for the talent as much as possible.”
All of the above is an effort to address the “knowledge gaps” that exist within the communications work force, she adds.
Although the economy has been on a rough ride in the past several years, and job loss has been staggering, President Obama continues to talk about the need for people to be educated in high value fields such as communications/networking in an effort to be more competitive as a country.
“At the end of the day we’ve talked about having all kinds of challenges in the past, economically, but we’re getting through those,” Beliveau-Dunn says.
Developing talent will be a big part of the recovery effort – and network is becoming critical to this transformation around the globe, she says.
“It’s going to be a war for talent over the next five years, I guarantee that,” she continues.
Key areas in which there are “knowledge gaps,” according to Beliveau-Dunn, are in converged collaboration solutions, data center solutions, security and wireless.
In addition to all the programs mentioned above, Cisco is working with the public sector, along with its Authorized Learning Partners, such as New Horizons, Ascolta and Skyline, and local Workforce Investment Agencies to provide training to displaced workers, and when possible, leverage government funding to cover the costs, which can amount to more than $3,500.For more information on how individuals can take advantage of government-funded programs, check out the list of WIA eligible training providers in California here:http://etpl.edd.ca.gov/wiaetplind.htm. There are similar programs in place across the country and internationally.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi