The following is an excerpt from the 2019 CSR report.
A top priority for Cisco is to empower people everywhere through opportunity. More specifically, we want to transform the lives of learners, educators, and communities through education and career possibilities. Based on a growing skills gap globally and the fact that every kind of business in today’s economy requires digital skills, this priority couldn’t be timelier. Through Cisco Networking Academy, we’re providing global and inclusive access for anyone, anywhere to participate in the evolving digital landscape. The program is available to those as young as 13 years old, those pursuing higher education and college, and those seeking a new career path. It’s delivered through public and private partnerships—so learners and educators keep up and keep moving forward.
Throughout the program, students from various socioeconomic backgrounds are empowered. They know they’re learning the very latest in technology— and gaining the digital and entrepreneurial skills to thrive. Career possibilities open up and lives transform for the better. Beyond creating opportunities for individuals, the program also benefits employers by increasing the number of job-ready and qualified candidates.
Cisco Networking Academy isn’t your average digital training program, but a true skills-to- jobs program. Its best-in-class curriculum prepares students and professionals for the most in-demand IT jobs in areas such as networking, cybersecurity, and IoT.
- Comprehensive. An end-to-end learning experience where students work in teams and develop skills they’ll use in the workplace.
- Accessible. Content is available online at netacad.com and through in-person courses where students learn from expert instructors. It’s also localized in 25 languages worldwide.
- Future-focused. Students can access career resources and connect to potential employers through the Talent Bridge program.
- Proven. Year after year, students and instructors alike say that the program provides valuable skills that help them grow their careers and obtain jobs.
We’ve been delivering impactful curriculum and proven learning outcomes for over 21 years.
In that time, technology—and required skills needed to deploy it—have changed greatly. Not only are we adapting to the trends of today, we’re anticipating those of tomorrow.
Ready for the future
Over 2.15 million students enrolled in Networking Academy in FY19. And we’re prepared to scale as the workplace of the future transforms. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2018 Report estimates that by 2022, 75 million jobs may be displaced by shifting labor between humans and machines, while 133 million new roles may emerge. Roles that require new skills—skills that Networking Academy and others are trying to help fill. Additional statistics confirm a skills gap: (ISC)2, the world’s leading cybersecurity and IT security professional organization says the global workforce is short nearly 3 million cybersecurity professionals. And the European Parliament Briefing Report says there could be as many as 756,000 unfilled jobs in the European ICT sector by 2020.
A platform for tomorrow’s digital training
The Networking Academy experience is enabled by netacad.com. An upgrade to this platform, launched in FY19, has improved ease of use, performance, reliability, and uptime. And now, it’s easier for us to scale and roll out new features, including best-in-class security that strengthens the trust Networking Academy users place in Cisco.
Courses on the cutting edge
Networks are becoming more intelligent, programmable, and software-driven. The worlds of traditional network engineers and software developers are merging to form the IT team of the future. As such, Networking Academy has Emerging Technologies Workshops, developed in partnership with DevNet, Cisco’s developer program, to support this evolution of networking and expose learners to new concepts with not only theory, but real, hands-on experiences. Even with this convergence, our Cisco certifications are among the most in-demand in the industry, according to IDC. In a single year, they were requested in 1.9 million IT-related openings. The vast majority of students who take a Cisco aligned certification course from Networking Academy are enrolled in Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) curriculum.
Networking Academy also rolled out a new IoT Security course that allows students to see through the lens of a cyberattacker. It trains students on real-world tools like Raspberry Pi and Kali Linux. And new cloud-based virtual labs for our CCNA Cybersecurity Operations course through our partner NDG allow instructors to run labs with less bandwidth and virtually no on-site equipment.
Our course portfolio is focused on networking, cybersecurity, and programmable infrastructure with an emphasis on student engagement. We have made improvements to our simulation software, Packet Tracer, by removing its dependence on Java and supporting Mac users directly. And we’ve brought the “gaming” experience into the student experience to keep students better engaged.
Hands-on learning with physical equipment has always set Networking Academy apart. In FY20, we’re exploring new ways to use virtual equipment and environments through augmented reality for increased student learning. In addition, we’re exploring digital badging to further recognize the skills and accomplishments of our learners for potential employers.
Accessibility for all
With the support of partners, Cisco is proud to deliver Networking Academy to 12,100 schools, community colleges, universities, and other organizations. Some of these partners support underserved and rural populations, veterans, prisoners, and people with disabilities.
Netacad.com follows web accessibility guidelines based on WCAG 2.0 for users with vision and hearing disabilities. We expanded accessibility in FY19 by adding course enhancements including:
- Screen readers
- Closed captions
- Keyboard shortcuts
Plus, we empower instructors to support students of all abilities. The program’s goal is to reach 10,000 students with disabilities, including physical, vision, and hearing impairments, by 2022. As of June 2019, we reached 8,000 students with disabilities. Several of these students enrolled through the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities’ ATWORK project. With this partner, we have created the abilITy Cisco Academy. This program has already trained two cohorts of adult learners.
Students: Connections to career opportunities
The benefits of Networking Academy don’t end when courses do. The learning portfolio’s hands-on design and resources from Talent Bridge help prepare students for jobs.
Talent Bridge meets students on their journey, whether they are just starting their studies, are mid-way through, or about to launch into the tech workforce. It offers resources like:
- An online job matching engine
- Career advice
- An alumni network
- Experience-building activities like Dream Team
Over 20,000 students found a job through the resources of Talent Bridge. And they found one more quickly than those who didn’t use our resources, according to the latest Networking Academy Survey. Some of our channel partners report that many of their entry-level hires are program grads.
Instructors: Resources that make a difference
Skilled and passionate instructors are essential to Networking Academy’s success. We offer rigorous instructor professional development directly from netacad.com. In FY19, we launched an exclusive Cisco Community where instructors can share insights with others and interact directly with product teams and peer experts.
Feedback is also collected regularly from instructors on how we can improve. In a FY19 survey, instructors said that the program:
- Made them a better educator (92 percent)
- Broadened their career (86 percent)
- Had a positive impact on their life (85 percent)
Partners: Growing together
Partnerships with governments, academic institutions, and nonprofits make the Networking Academy program possible. We continue to grow this network. We are also aligned with countries and states building digital economies that make them economically competitive. As part of our efforts to make access inclusive, Networking Academy is free to eligible education partners.