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Cisco pledges to train 1m Africans for future-proof careers

Read time 3min 20sec
David Meads, Cisco VP for the Middle East and Africa.
David Meads, Cisco VP for the Middle East and Africa.

Hot jobs for the future will mostly revolve around technology, and the hottest job of all looks certain to be cyber security.

It's a career where the already existing shortage of skills will exacerbate rapidly as more companies protect their data, widening the gap between too many jobs and too few candidates.

That lack of skills has prompted networking company Cisco to commit to training 125 000 young Africans to become cyber security graduates over the next five years, giving them skills that will open up a world of opportunities.

The news was announced today at the Cisco Connect 2109 conference in Sun City, where almost 1 000 IT specialists from across southern Africa are in attendance.

Cisco plans to use its existing Networking Academies to deliver this highly specialised security training. The academies are active in 48 of Africa's 54 counties, and will ramp up their usual output to train a million more students over the coming five years, with 125 000 of them focused on cyber security.

David Meads, Cisco VP for the Middle East and Africa, said this is a way in which Cisco could help to shape the future for Africa.

"The accelerating pace of change across all sectors is seeing African governments grappling with how to diversity away from natural resources into a knowledged-based economy. The biggest challenge is around human capacity," he said. "By 2025, we will train an additional one million students across Africa through our Networking Academies and we expect 125 000 of them to be cyber security experts."

Cisco's Networking Academies were launched in 1998, and so far close to 700 000 Africans have been taught digital skills ready for hi-tech careers. In South Africa alone, the academies operate through more than 60 centres, including universities, colleges and community organisations.

Globally, more than 9.2 million students in 180 countries have studied at the academies, taking IT courses that lead to internationally recognised certifications. Most students take courses in person at one of the 10 400 locations around the world. Students can also study online. The instructors are given quartlery refresher courses to keep them up to date with ever-changing technologies.

By 2025, we will train an additional one million students across Africa through our Networking Academies and we expect 125 000 of them to be cyber security experts.

To make sure the graduates don't flounder once they are qualified, earlier this year Cisco launched Talent Bridge, a portal where students and alumni can enter their skills, qualifications and experience, and potential employees can search the database for suitable new recruits.

"You can find experts who have the experience and are available, so we will create hundreds of thousands of jobs with our partners and customers," Meads said.

Greg Prynn, Cisco's senior director for corporate affairs, said the Networking Academies give people the skills to earn a living wage and a future-proof career.

"The skills we will provide in Africa are exactly the same as we offer in the US, so this gives them the ability to move or stay where they are, because with cyber security issues we need people everywhere," Prynn said.

This is the first time Cisco Connect has covered Sub-Saharan Africa as well as South Africa, and almost 1 000 delegates are attending the event in Sun City, with the theme 'Say Hello To The Future'.

About 50 deep-dive technology sessions are on the agenda, while an exhibition area is showcasing the technologies developed by Cisco partners and customers.

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