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White House and IT Industry Partnership Prepares Servicemen and Women for the Workforce

April 29, 2013 - 29 Comments

Approximately 1.2 million armed forces personnel are expected to transition from the U.S. military to civilian life over the next several years, with as many as 300,000 in the next 12 months.  Many of these veterans will look to move quickly into the next phase of their careers and need to find fulfilling jobs that will enable them to build upon their military experience and support themselves and their families. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 10.1 percent jobless rate for post 9/11 veterans and exceeding 30 percent for veterans ages 18-24. It is imperative that, as a country, we come together to fix this. We must provide the training, certifications and jobs that our veterans have earned and deserve.

As an example of what we hope public private partnerships will do for our veterans who have given so much for our country, I look at Courtney Beard, a Cisco employee, who transitioned from active duty Air Force service in September 2011 with very little IT training. Coming from a family with a long history of military service, she knew at a young age that she would serve her country but she did not think much about what life would look like after she returned home. Highly skilled, and capable of excelling in the most difficult of circumstances, she still faced challenges finding a meaningful job aligned with her future goals; the process included resume critiques, regular attendance at job fairs, and participating in the Warrior to Cyber Warrior training and mentorship program with other veterans.

People like Courtney are the driving force behind the White House IT Training and Certification Program – an initiative to help transitioning military personnel make the difficult shift to the civilian workforce by obtaining the necessary training and certifications needed for high demand IT jobs.  Debuted today by First Lady Michelle Obama, the program – in partnership with Joining Forces and the President’s Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force – will actively engage 1,000 transitioning military personnel in training, certification and career resources. The concept and platform behind the program was developed with leadership from Cisco and Futures, Inc. This public-private partnership exemplifies business and government working together to make a difference in our economy, our businesses and our country.

Program participants will have access to training, certification, and career matching opportunities once they register on the Futures, Inc. U.S. IT Pipeline, a cloud-based talent exchange platform utilizing a best-of-breed military skills translator. Each participant will select one of several IT certification preparation courses such as Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), which prepares entry-level network engineers for careers and helps maximize foundational networking knowledge. (Cisco’s Networking Academy program has already provided training for more than 45,000 military personnel.)  After each participant completes the coursework and passes the certification exam, the website will identify jobs in the IT sector that match their experience and qualifications. My hope is that this model will expand to include even more participants considering IT careers.

We know that veterans have valuable skills, experiences, and qualifications that are highly sought after in today’s workforce. Our goal is for this program to help take their skills – like teamwork and leadership, the proven ability to learn quickly, a strong work ethic, dedication, and the ability to work under pressure – and help quickly translate them into successful career opportunities in the civilian workforce. In addition, transitioning military personnel and veterans can help to fill our current skills gap in the IT sector, which will help accelerate innovation and growth in our economy.  Watch this video for a closer look at the military transition stories of some of Cisco’s employees.

It’s important to remember that obtaining the necessary training and certifications, and being matched to the right job is only the beginning of a successful transition for our troops to civilian life. We as employers must also ensure the ongoing success of that transition. Mindful of the difficulties some veterans will face in transitioning to the civilian workforce, Cisco developed many internal initiatives, including the Veterans Enablement and Troop Support (VETS) Employee Resource Group. This group is designed to provide veterans working at Cisco an internal community support network to mentor, support and assist our newest veteran employees’ transition.

With the Administration, especially The President and the First Lady and other leaders in the private sector such as our partners in this program, Futures, Inc., Global Knowledge, Pearson Vue and others, we can work together to mentor, train and provide opportunities to those who serve our country. We need more success stories of veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce. We hope you will join us in helping support this industry- and government-wide push to provide training and mentoring to our transitioning servicemen and women.

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  1. I love the idea and the program. I support it with my heart. Thx so much

  2. This is such a novel idea and a noble thought. Helping the veterans lead a respectable life by creating suitable careers would be a humble way to honor their committment and sacrifice.

    John Chambers is a visionary, and Cisco is such a wonderful company which adds true value to the society. Its a pleasure to work for Cisco.


  3. No better company than Cisco to work 🙂

  4. nice blog and nice info… thank you so much Mr.John Chambers

  5. Being a veteran from the Indian Army and though not directly employed with Cisco, but still as part of a vendor into M&E services at the India campus gives me an immense sense of satisfaction and pride. Interacting with the young and vibrant Cisco employees is awesome and the amount of respect they give is amazing.
    Wish the experience and maturity of the veterans is utilized optimally for a win win situation for everyone.

  6. As a non US veteran myself, the clincher in my job interviews at Cisco was the respect that I sensed from the interviewers, all from GGSG then. I look at many other biggies from Fortune 100s in India and none come close to Cisco in making a veteran comfortable and productive.

    I suggest that Cisco ropes in time and effort from some of us for any coaching/mentoring/prepping potential joiners so that we can help cover the gaps, if any, before they come on board.

    The brotherhood of veterans is cross cultural and cross geography

    • Hello,

      Thank you for your comment. Cisco is currently building its mentoring program through veteran Employee Resource Group. Many exciting things are planned for the near future.

  7. Great Program! I am very proud of Cisco.

  8. As a veteran of the US Air Force, I benefited greatly from the military’s joint Transition Assistance Program in the early 1980s. It was a large part of my successful return into civilian life–and I remain grateful.

    My son is in the US Air Force, and my daughter is in the US Army, both stationed overseas. I could not be happier that John Chambers and Cisco are an integral part of a program that seeks not to just assist, but to help define a clear pathway to success for those who return.

    Thank you.

  9. Great program and fantastic leadership from Cisco!!!

    How can we extend this to our other technologies such as Data Center, Optical, Collaboration, Security, … ?

  10. As a Veteran myself, it is good to see companies reaching out to Veterans and tapping into their wealth of knowledge experience and resources.

  11. John’s personal interest in our men and women in uniform to me is huge and it shows that we (Cisco) are committed to the DOD beyond our product and service offering. What an awesome example of a true servant leader and an American Patriot giving back!

  12. This is great. As a veteran myself this is yet another reason why working at Cisco makes me proud. Thanks to John and the Cisco team!! Veterans have so much value to add!

  13. For the folks who gave their best moments of life to the country, this is one the best ways of helping them bounce back. I wish this program all success

  14. Is there contact info for the program?

  15. Absolutely great program! Collaboration, teamwork, and an omnipresent innovative environment which is both challenging and fun is highly desirable -sign me up. Lack of efficient processes, knowledge base, and willingness to change are fundamental deterrences. Matrixed organization, fluidity in communication, data transparency, work-life balance, REMOTE working, and great food are nice too. All the best to this program, there are more than enough soft and hard skills in Cisco’s backyard than to seek offshore resources with a high churn rate and spawned competition -no stronger sense of loyalty than from a Veteran.

  16. This is a wonderful program and I am so excited to see it in action. I can say I am a very proud Cisco Employee, watching this program grow into what it has become. I have referred a VET to the program, so exciting!

  17. Great stuff !!!

  18. From my own personal experience as a retired US Army Colonel coming to Cisco as my first civilian job experience in 2007, I can tell you there is no better company and no more inclusive people than at Cisco! The investment made in me to teach me the services business is one I appreciate more than words can express. It is wonderful that Cisco has formalized this commitment and giving others opportunities to make a difference for our customers, partners and fellow employees!

  19. I am a combat veteran and recently found myself being discriminated against. I walked into Illinois Gastroenterology Elgin office and asked if they hire male nurses and that I am a Veteran seeking an application. Sharon the receptionist said No. I asked is it because I said I’m a Veteran or a male nurse and she said no again and said sometimes you just have to accept no. All I wanted was the same opportunity that a female non veteran or male non veteran would have received. I asked again for an application and rudely was told to go to the greeting desk as I did. The horrible thing about this situation is that I’m also a patient at Illinois gastroenterology Elgin. You don’t have to be African American to feel the grievances and shame of people who are unpatriotic or discriminate against you because of how your born(male).This is a great program for Veterans and Mr. Chambers is a true leader and patriot.

    Charles H. USN/USMC HM3

    • HM3 Charles, thanks for your service man. I am sorry that happened to you. Honestly some folks can be pretty callous for lots of reasons. Some obvious, some not so obvious.

  20. Great Program, how can non-profit training organizations participate?

    • Hi Chuck, the project is in the initial pilot stage, so there isn’t an easy way to involve nonprofits. If you send me your contact information at thbonner at I can keep you in the loop on the program.

  21. Thank you for everyone who helped get this program off the ground! I look forward to seeing the results.

  22. This is a wonderful new program – how can other companies get involved?