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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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A Journey from WorldSkills to Cisco

closeupThis post was written by guest blogger Jean-Philippe Desbiens, 23, laboratory administrator at Cisco Montreal. 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 in July 2013 in Leipzig, Germany and is taking place again this week 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 WorldSkills 2013 in Leipzig, Germany

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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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#CiscoChat Recap: World Youth Skills Day?

Though it sounds cliché, technology seemingly does move at the speed of light. And as a result of these rapid evolutions that define the industry, “tech talent” is in extremely high-demand. Yet the number of technical-related positions continues to trend higher than the actual number of individuals available who can fill them.

But the industry is making changes! And against the backdrop of the United Nations’ World Youth Skills Day, our latest #CiscoChat celebrated the event, sparking meaningful conversation on how to encourage the passion and interests of young people who can actually fill these tech roles.

During our #CiscoChat, poignant questions from host Cisco Networking Academy  and participant insights reignited hope for our increasingly connected economy and the generation whose skills can fulfill its promise.

To kick-off the discussion, understanding just how connected our world is becoming was key.

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