State of the Union Challenge: Teaching Skills that Lead to Jobs

January 26, 2012 - 1 Comment

As I listened to the State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening, my ears perked up when I heard these words “Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job”. While I agree that this is” inexcusable”, I couldn’t help but feel gratified that President Obama called attention to our deficiency in 21st century skills-based education.

Although unemployment continues to be a challenge in this country, the demand for technology specialists is on the rise. Projected to grow by 10, 20 and in some cases 50 percent in coming years, jobs like Computer Support Specialist, Analysts and Systems Administrators are in high demand.

The President has challenged us to commit to training “two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job” This is exactly the call that Cisco’s Networking Academy was founded to address 15 years ago. It is greatly satisfying to know that the program for which I have the pleasure of working with is finally being seen as fulfilling a national imperative. Cisco Networking Academy connects students to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) education and business skills to prepare them for the future workforce.  As the economy continues to recover and small businesses continue to grow, Networking Academy will continue to build capacity locally and across all industries where proprietors and innovators rely on information technology to do business.

As an example, during the housing crisis, Chris Kordus lost his job in the once-thriving Las Vegas-area construction industry.  He enrolled in a local community college and began taking courses through Cisco Networking Academy to gain skills that could help him build a sustainable career.  Chris has completed CCNA 1-4 and is currently enrolled in CCNP, but he has gone far beyond these certifications.  Chris and five other Networking Academy students were nominated among some 140,000 other U.S. based students to attend CiscoLive, a premier IT education and training conference.  The students were given the opportunity to work in the Networking Operations Center (NOC) at this annual event.  Chris and his teammates earned the chance to work directly with networking professionals and got hands-on experience trouble-shooting and working with customers (attendees) to solve problems in real-time.  Chris’s achievements also earned him an interview by a local news reporter.

Cisco’s long-term commitment to making skills-based learning accessible to everyone reached a critical milestone last year when we enrolled 1 million concurrent students for the first time in the program’s history.  Students like Chris are learning the skills they need to pursue a sustainable career path. Very soon Chris, hopes to put his ICT education to work in the industry he knows and loves  – construction  – because all industries will continue to multiply their impact through their ability to harness the power of networks.

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  1. It is really inspiring to read such success stories and the impact of the Cisco Networking Academy. Cisco technologies are primed to impact STEM education in many ways. I recently wrote about the potential being realized with telepresence –, and we have engineers in the field who are taking time to talk to students about careers and the importance of STEM education. I love it!