More than ever employers are feeling the impact of the IT skills gap. Since 2016, the gap has more than doubled and worldwide 79 percent of IT decision-makers face skills gaps today (2019 IT Skills and Salary Report: It Decision-Maker Insights, Global Knowledge). And research from McKinsey finds that by 2030 the global demand for technological skills will grow by 55 percent.

What’s driving the demand? The proliferation of cybersecurity into nearly every aspect of business, as well as new technologies like 5G, machine learning, and edge computing, which are unleashing new applications at a speed we’ve never seen before. It’s now no longer enough for IT professionals to be skilled in routers, switches, and wireless networks alone. They must have a well-rounded understanding of security, virtualization, programming, and automation to be prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

To help meet the need for skilled IT talent and ensure a more inclusive future for all people, I’m excited to announce that Cisco Networking Academy has advanced its Cisco Certificated Network Associate (CCNA) curriculum to prepare job seekers, from anywhere and from any background, with the skills they need for a successful career in the ever-changing IT field. The new curriculum will be integrated into most of Networking Academy’s 12,000+ academies around the world to prepare students to earn the new CCNA certification, which is available on February 24, 2020.

Highlights of the new CCNA curriculum:

  • An accelerated path to job readiness through three required courses of 70 hours each, which prepare students for the CCNA certification exam.
  • Best-in-class course materials that go beyond networking to include programming, automation, virtualization, and security.
  • Improved curriculum format to help students learn skills more quickly. Designed to be highly interactive, the curriculum includes 70 hours of hands-on labs, activities with Cisco’s Packet Tracer simulation tool, videos, and more.
  • The most accessible and flexible curriculum to date. It can be taught at high schools, colleges, universities, prisons, nonprofits, and more. With an entirely new, fully responsive user interface, students can now access the courses from any device. In addition, accessibility improvements provide enhancements for screen readers, better keyboard accessibility, and a redesigned user interface to address the needs of persons with disabilities.
  • New “digital badging” will allow students to display accreditation in their professional field as it is earned, as well as validate skills throughout their careers with peers and prospective employers.

Employers value certification

Employers recognize the value of certification. A recent global survey of IT decision-makers found that the value of certification is undeniable – with 93 percent of respondents agreeing that certified employees provide added value above and beyond the cost of certification (2019 IT Skills and Salary Report: It Decision-Maker Insights, Global Knowledge).

The new Networking Academy CCNA curriculum, required for CCNA certification, provides employers with highly-skilled associate-level professionals that know how to work with new and existing digital network architectures holistically. Whether that’s wireless architectures, programming, or cybersecurity, the curriculum equips students with the knowledge they need to build the networks of today and tomorrow.

Making sure our CCNA curriculum is on the leading edge of technology innovation is our highest priority. We are constantly gathering input from employers about the skills needed in the industry and how we can best meet the changes in market demands. This knowledge is then incorporated into our comprehensive learning portfolio, which is licensed free of charge and delivered through our public and private partnerships with academic institutions, nonprofits, government agencies, and more in 180 countries.

Providing opportunities for all students

With academies around the globe, from the United States to Nigeria, China to Brazil, Networking Academy is changing lives. By providing people from all backgrounds and experiences an opportunity to learn the skills needed to thrive in today’s digital economy – Networking Academy is helping create a more inclusive, prosperous future for all people.

But what does that mean? It means that a young female Networking Academy student from a poor community in India, who was teased for being the only girl in her class and completed her CCNA certification anyway, can go on to get a job as a cloud support associate at Amazon. That an Italian man sentenced to nine years in prison can become a Networking Academy student, complete his CCNA certification, and go on to run a successful business as a networking security engineer. And that a Networking Academy student with disabilities in his thirties from New York City can obtain his CCNA certification and start his IT career as a networking engineer intern at the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Helping close the employment gap

To date, nearly 1.9 million Networking Academy students who completed CCNA courses found new jobs (FY05-FY19 Cisco Student Outcome Survey). This is due in part to our industry-leading Talent Bridge program. Talent Bridge is a comprehensive program that includes an alumni network, the Dream Team, career advice, career preparation workshops, and a job matching engine. The matching engine, which was introduced two years ago, has a network of over 300 Cisco Channel Partner employers and 1,000 recruiters, and has connected more than 29,000 candidates to job opportunities around the world.

Together with our community of partners and academies, Networking Academy is continuing its over 20-year legacy of improving peoples’ lives by providing its accessible, best-in-class curriculum to students around the world. Since inception, we have trained 10.9 students and have donated USD$3.7 billion in in-kind contributions (as of FY19). I look forward to seeing how this new CCNA curriculum will transform the lives of millions more students.

To learn how you can join the Networking Academy as a student or instructor, visit www.netacad.com.



Laura Quintana

Vice President and General Manager

Cisco Networking Academy