More than 56 million people in Latin America rose above the poverty line between 2002 and 2011. Thanks to a thriving job market and rising wages, the middle class in the region grew by 82 million people in that time span, as more people discovered new economic opportunities in an increasingly connected world.
The explosion of people, processes, data, and things connected to the Internet — the Internet of Everything — has the potential to create even more growth and opportunity, for people and businesses alike. Consider this: by the end of this year, more than 15 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. And by 2020, this is expected to grow to 50 billion devices. All these connections will create new jobs, new businesses, and new career paths that don’t even exist today.
Unfortunately, right now there is an obstacle to realizing this potential in Latin America. We need more people with the skills to digitize our economy. According to an IDC Report, there will be a shortage of 296,200 computer networking professionals in eight Latin American countries this year, leaving more than one third of these jobs unfilled. According to the World Bank Enterprise Surveys, 36 percent of businesses surveyed in Latin America say they struggle to find an adequately qualified work force, a percentage higher than in any other region in the world. This skills shortage poses a challenge for the economic development in the coming years.
Fortunately, the Cisco Networking Academy is helping people develop the IT skills that businesses need to grow and thrive in our increasingly digitized world. In 28 Latin American countries, more than 180,000 students are enrolled in Cisco Networking Academy courses, developing skills in networking, security, and cloud technologies.
A number of these employers recently shared with us how hiring Networking Academy students has helped them reach their business goals.
For example, Sykes Enterprises operates in Costa Rica and Colombia, providing business process outsourcing services, IT consulting, and IT-enabled services to market segments around the world. It has over 47,000 employees in 20 countries and operates in 30 languages. Sykes runs Cisco’s Technical Assistance Center (TAC) to provide support to customers worldwide. In Latin America it employs over 1000 people to provide level 1-3 support. They recognize the Networking Academy is making it easier to fill jobs and develop needed skills among their employees.
Olger Hernandez, a technical development manager with Sykes, says that Cisco Networking Academy students have the networking skills to enter the workforce and be successful in many different technical positions.
The Cisco CCNA certification is a requirement for many positions at Sykes, and employees often enroll in Cisco Networking Academy to prepare for the examination. More than 2000 Sykes employees have participated in the Cisco Networking Academy Program since 2009. Students with Networking Academy training, as well as English skills, are poised to move through the company’s ranks and contribute to its growth. This benefits the employees as well as the company.
For example, Yislen Cespedes joined the company is 2008 as a help desk technician and is now a TAC engineer for Cisco at Sykes. She took Cisco CCNA courses through Networking Academy, discovered that networking was her true passion, and is finishing her Cisco CCNP courses before earning her certification.
Olger says in the last five years Sykes has promoted more than 300 Networking Academy students from customer service positions to the Cisco TAC, where they earn twice the salary.
Soluciones Tecnológicas SifraNext in Mexico is another company that has experienced the benefits of hiring Cisco Networking Academy talent. Victor Angeles, the company’s director, says Networking Academy students possess strong knowledge of Cisco equipment, which is fundamental whether he is hiring for a customer service or technical job.
In 2014 we surveyed Cisco partners worldwide about their hiring practices. More than one third of respondents who had hired Networking Academy talent said they had better technical skills than non-Networking Academy talent. And nearly two-thirds said Networking Academy students were better equipped to work with Cisco technologies than non-Networking Academy hires.
The Networking Academy helps build a foundation for success, combining hands-on learning with problem solving and communication. In order to be competitive in a global market, students are encouraged to learn English and continue developing their soft and technical skills after they’ve completed their courses or earned their certifications.
We at Cisco recognize the tremendous value the Networking Academy students bring to a business. In recent years we’ve hired outstanding students like Maria Del Pilar Munoz in Colombia and Jesús Israel Nava in Mexico. Max Tremp, director of systems engineering in Mexico City, summed it up nicely when he said, “Students receive a great education through Networking Academy, which means companies don’t need to invest as much into their education upon hiring them.”
Since 1997, almost one million students have gone through the Cisco Networking Academy in Latin America. The skills gap may be wide, but Networking Academy is helping business fill jobs with young men and women who are eager to put their networking expertise to the test.
Find out how you can hire Networking Academy talent to grow your business.