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A Morning of Inspiration with Cisco Networking Academy Students

This blog was originally published on Cisco’s internal employee website.

“Follow your dreams. Don’t be afraid. Hold your heads high!”


These were the words shared by Alison Gleeson, Cisco’s Senior Vice President of Americas Sales and Jordi Botifoll, Cisco’s President of the Latin America Theater, to students at a recent Cisco Networking Academy event during Cisco Live! Cancun.

The 30 students came from Mexico’s Yucatan and Quintana Roo area. They come from primarily underprivileged neighborhoods, but these young men and women are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families by pursuing careers in technology.

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A Journey from WorldSkills to Cisco

closeupThis post was written by guest blogger Jean-Philippe Desbiens, 23, a Cisco Meraki consulting systems engineer. Cisco CCNA certified since age 17, Jean-Philippe is now CCNP certified and studying for his CCIE. He is involved in his community and is always eager to learn new technologies.

Did you know that every two years, a global competition for professional trades is held somewhere in the world? That event, called WorldSkills, happened last month in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

WorldSkills is an International competition that brings together young people from all around the world to fight for the title of “best of the world” in their trades. I was one of them, as I represented Canada in the category IT – Network Systems Administration in 2013 in Leipzig. I finished 6th out of 30 competitors and received a medallion of excellence. However, before getting in the world’s top 10, I had to follow a specific and special path.

Jean-Philippe competes at WorldSkills 2013 in Leipzig, Germany

Jean-Philippe competes at a prior WorldSkills event in Leipzig, Germany

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Digital Challenge Helps Young People Solve Social Challenges in Brazil

What better place to incorporate a Hackathon than at World Skills, an event already bursting with energy and excitement? This year, the organization introduced a Digital Challenge with the goal to help local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with real-world problems, and show that IT-related competitions can be fun and engaging.

As part of the Digital Challenge at World Skills, students will put their technical knowledge to the test while working with local organizations to solve social problems with technology.

Fifteen local Brazilian problem solvers will join 5 past WorldSkills champions to help 5 Brazilian NGOs move social projects forward. The 4-day challenge takes place parallel to the WorldSkills competition and will leave behind a legacy.

The 5 challenges the teams will address are:

  • Opportunities for youth
  • Multiple disabilities game and play
  • Blood donation awareness
  • Recycling and social development
  • Cancer patient support

Learn more about the teams and the challenges.

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Young People Show Off Their IT Skills at Global Competition

It’s hard to believe 2 years have already passed since I first experienced WorldSkills in Leipzig, Germany. The intensity and energy of the week were unforgettable, so I’m excited to be back this year, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to experience it again.

I always feel inspired meeting young people who take their skills to the next level. WorldSkills is one of the best events to do just that – this vigorous 4-day competition tests young people’s vocational skills, ranging from hairdressing to carpentry to robotics to IT network systems administration. More than 1000 competitors travel from 50+ countries around the world with the hopes to take home a medal at the end of the week.

Cisco is a strong supporter of World Skills and the opportunity it provides for young people to showcase their talent. Specifically we sponsor Skill #39, IT Network Systems Administration. This year we will meet top talent from 36 countries who will compete in Skill #39 – the largest number in this skill ever. And, approximately 90% of them are enrolled in Cisco Networking Academy courses.

Jean-Philippe Desbiens represented Canada in Skill #39 at WorldSkills 2013. He was later hired  by Cisco in Montreal.

Jean-Philippe Desbiens represented Canada in Skill #39 at WorldSkills 2013. He was later hired by Cisco in Montreal.

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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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