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Engineering a STEM mentoring moonshot

The following post was originally published in The Hill

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy laid out an ambitious goal for our nation – to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. In doing so, he inspired a new generation and helped ensure U.S. global leadership in technology for years to come.

Today, we have an earthbound, but no less important, challenge. We face a massive skills gap — by 2018, our nation will have 1.8 million unfilled jobs requiring technical skills. Our nation’s business community is uniting to address the challenge.

We need to make sure that students of all backgrounds have the skills and opportunities to pursue a career in STEM– Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. This requires a national strategy, a chief component of which is STEM mentoring by STEM professionals.

Why mentoring? Because students won’t do what they can’t see. It’s one thing to teach math and science in the classroom. It’s another thing to build, explore, and engage the incredible world of science and technology that is transforming our society in real-time. Hands-on learning is the way to get a diverse group of students excited about STEM.

STEM mentors at Cisco

Participants with Techbridge Girls visit Cisco’s San Jose, California headquarters during a STEM mentoring event in February, 2015.

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Cisco Volunteers Build New Home for Texas Disaster Victims

Employees from Cisco’s Richardson, Texas campus were pleased to attend a dedication on July 21 for the new owners of the Habitat for Humanity house that Cisco funded in West, Texas.

You may remember back in April 2013, a fertilizer plant exploded in West, killing 15 people and injuring more than 300. A nursing home, apartment complex, schools, and private homes were destroyed.

At the dedication this week, new homeowner Gloria Alamos and her daughter Breanna accepted the keys to the house that Cisco volunteers spent 551 hours working on for 6 months. This was the first Habitat for Humanity house funded following the fertilizer plant explosion, and Cisco was the first corporation to contact Waco Habitat for Humanity about the rebuilding process within 48 hours of the blast.

Homeowner Gloria Alamos and Cisco employee Dan Weaver, who attended every volunteer build except one.

Homeowner Gloria Alamos and Cisco employee Dan Weaver, who attended every volunteer build except one.

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5 Ways Cisco Celebrates Youth World Skills Day All Year

Today, July 15, Cisco will join the United Nations in observing the first annual World Youth Skills Day — a global conversation about youth unemployment and the importance of giving young men and women around the world the skills to thrive in any workplace.

Through social media and the power of the Internet, we can bring awareness to this critical problem, which left more than 74.5 million young people without jobs in 2013. After analyzing the data, the United Nations General Assembly established World Youth Skills Day on November 11, 2014, and today, you can be part of the conversation by using the #wsyd hashtag.

Cisco Networking Academy students in Cambodia have access to online courses and interactive activities.

Cisco Networking Academy students in Cambodia have access to online courses and interactive activities.

Although this issue won’t be solved in a day, Cisco is committed year-round to helping young people develop valuable IT skills and launch their careers in this increasingly connected world.

Every day, our programs and partners are creating social change around the world and helping to close this growing skills gap:

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#CiscoChat: UN World Youth Skills Day Drives New Conversation on IT Skills Shortage


We are living in an era of an increasingly connected economy and a business landscape that constantly has to keep pace for organizations to remain relevant and competitive. Thanks in part to the expansion of the Internet of Everything (IoE) (and the millions of connective touch points it supports), heightened cyber security needs, emerging technologies like SD WANs and the growth of STEM-based jobs, people with technical “know-how” are in extremely high-demand.

Despite this need for tech talent, at current rates, the number of available technical-related positions in the future will far outweigh the number individuals qualified enough to fulfill them.

As a result, in the last couple of years, the headlines have become increasingly intense and a critical question is echoing through the halls of technology C-suites.

Where is all of the tech talent?

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Social Innovation: Good for Society and Good for Business

Cisco Executive - Sandy Walsh

Sandy Walsh

Organizations are increasingly paying more attention to two areas that are critical to business success and sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and human capital development.

Sandy Walsh, Director of the Social Innovation Group in Cisco’s Asia Pacific region, shares her perspective on how taking a “shared value” approach can help to accelerate social impact while supporting business goals. The Social Innovation Group leverages Cisco’s technology and expertise to develop innovative solutions to address social challenges throughout Asia Pacific.

Q. Why is human capital development — particularly in information and communications technology (ICT) education and entrepreneurship — vital for the community development and economic growth of this region?

ICT is a growth enabler. I saw this when I first moved to Asia. However, the real challenge is to recruit talent with the relevant skills to exploit this technology. Without the human capacity to exploit the capabilities of ICT, it won’t deliver on its transformative potential for the region, whether that is in improving Industry productivity or improving the delivery of citizen services.

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