Cisco announces its goal to train 2.6 million people across the European Union (EU) in digital and cybersecurity skills over the next 10 years, through the Networking Academy. Cisco’s announcement comes as the Union kicks off its European Year of Skills, announced by President Ursula von der Leyen in her latest State of the Union address.


Currently, 54 percent of Europeans aged between 16 and 74 have basic digital skills. By 2030, the EU aims to equip at least 80% of its citizens with basic digital skills and have at least 20 million information and communications technology (ICT) specialists employed. I am proud to see how Cisco actively supports the EU and its member states in meeting their digital skills targets.

From our partnership with Randstad, to our dedicated program for Ukrainian refugees, and our policy recommendations to bridge the skills gap, here are some of the areas we will focus on to contribute to building a stronger digital Europe.

Partnerships to Deliver Results at Scale

The Cisco Networking Academy has one of the most diverse and developed partner ecosystem in the industry that can help deliver results at scale. To this end, we are launching a partnership with Randstad, a global leader in the HR services industry, to help talent develop their digital skills, preparing them to navigate the rapidly digitalizing labor market.

Cisco and Randstad will work together with the aim to reskill and upskill 300,000 people in areas such as cybersecurity, programming and infrastructure automation across Europe. The partnership is currently running in The Netherlands and Italy with more countries to follow through in 2023.

“We are very proud to partner with Cisco to equip the talent of tomorrow with the skills they need to succeed in a fast-changing world of work. Through partnerships such as this one we are supporting talent to turn the skills they gained into opportunities, by combining skilling with access to the labor market.”
Chris Heutink, Randstad’s COO

Cisco partners with Randstad for digital skills
Cisco partners with Randstad for digital skills

With the Cisco Networking Academy, we have provided digital skills across Europe, with many successful projects training women, unemployed people, and groups at risk of digital social exclusion with digital skills. In Spain, we collaborate with Escuela de Organización Industrial (EOI) to offer basic training for long-lasting unemployed people and under 30 years old.

In Italy, Cisco worked with the city of Turin to provide municipal workers with basic training in cybersecurity thanks to our Introduction to Cybersecurity course offering, bolstering the cyber-readiness of the local administration.

Meaningful Impact through Improved Access

Delivering meaningful impact has always been part of Cisco Networking Academy’s vision. That means ensuring that underserved and underprivileged populations are provided with opportunities to partake in learning pathways that could transform their lives. Because we believe we can help build a stronger Europe, and lower barriers to entry to life-changing opportunities for all by providing the right digital skills through inclusive and accessible IT skills-to-job programs.

In Germany, the Cisco Networking Academy collaborates with the REDI School in Germany, a program designed to empower migrant and refugee women to use Cisco Networking Academy certification pathways to obtain full certification. Once completed participants can access job openings within Cisco and across its partner ecosystem. This solution has been successfully deployed during the migrant crisis in 2015 and in the more recent crisis linked to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Cisco4Ukraine, Building the Workforce of Tomorrow Across the Region

While providing tools to address the need for digital training and skills, Cisco’s Networking Academy gives special attention to regional challenges. By working with regional education partners, Cisco contributes to building a local pool of next-generation talent critical to long-term social inclusion and economic resilience of the EU.

Our work doesn’t stop with borders. I am excited to share that we have just presented the new ‘Cisco4Ukraine’ program, designed for Ukrainian refugees who want to build digital skills. We have developed this program in partnership with University of Information Technology and Management in Rzeszów, Poland, to deliver courses in Ukrainian to 10,000 people over the next two years.

Through interactive experiences and practice labs integrated in the curriculum, participants will build their digital skills in cybersecurity and programming, soon expanding with data analysis and networking. The courses are practical, focused on providing job-ready expertise and are open to all Ukrainians and provide opportunities from entry to advanced level, for learners who want to enter a career path where basic digital competences are essential, to IT professionals.

Positively Impact The Lives Of Millions With Digital Skills

To develop sustainable and secure businesses, and more equitable societies, we need a workforce equipped to meet the future of work, education, healthcare and so many essential aspects of our lives. Addressing the digital skills shortage is the key challenge Europe needs to address to meet its 2030 Digital Decade goals.

Initiatives such as the upcoming EU Cybersecurity Skills Academy and enhancing talents via the Green Deal industrial Plan are steps in the right direction from policymakers to reduce the digital skills gap. More can and should be done. Cisco has put forward six policy recommendations for governments and industry to work together to truly address the digital skills shortage: from basic digital skills training for children to get online safely and think critically about technology, to vocational training and apprenticeships, and further investment in public education systems. In addition, knowledge and best practices sharing between regions and municipalities across Europe have proven to be a powerful way for local partners to access the resources they need to deliver results.

Through the Cisco Networking Academy, Cisco has impacted the lives of 17.5 million students across the world over the past 25 years. With our ambition to train 2.6 million people with digital skills across the European Union in the next 10 years, working in partnership with our local education partners, we want to continue to contribute to building a pool of next-generation talent critical to long-term social inclusion and economic resilience of the EU.


Find out more about the Cisco Networking Academy, one of the world’s longest running skills-to-jobs programs, at 

Cisco Networking Academy Impact: Europe, Middle East, and Africa

Educating the learners who connect the world



Pastora Valero

Senior Vice President, International Government Affairs

Government Affairs