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Networking Academies Boost Career Opportunities in Least Developed Nations


Cisco, the Cisco Learning Institute, the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations Development Program, and the US Agency for International Development today announced the results of a commissioned study that examines how the Cisco Networking Academy is affecting developing countries in Africa. The results confirm that Cisco’s Networking Academies are having a strong positive impact on developing nations. The study, which specifically examined six African nations that are part of the Least Developed Country Initiative, found that the Cisco Networking Academy is boosting necessary IT career skills, providing critical job opportunities, promoting self-confidence in women entering the IT field and enhancing the overall education level within communities.

“Training in information technology and networking skills provides a much-needed path to economic success and independence for individuals in many developing nations,” said Amy Christen, vice president, Cisco Corporate Affairs and general manager, Cisco Networking Academy. “Cisco is proud to be able to demonstrate such progress in this, the tenth year of the Networking Academy, and looks forward to making additional strides over the next ten years.”

Overall, the Cisco Networking Academy has been providing people throughout the world with key IT skills for 10 years at more than 9,500 academies around the world. More than 500,000 students yearly are enrolled to learn entry-level to advanced networking and IT skills and preparing for industry certifications.

One of the first public-private partnerships of its kind, the Least Developed Countries Initiative was launched by Cisco in July 2000 following the Okinawa G-8 Summit. The LDC Initiative was a response to the call for more private sector organizations to address the digital divide. With this backdrop, Cisco partnered with key international development organizations including the United Nations Development Program, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the International Telecommunication Union, and the United Nations Volunteers to provide internet-based learning and IT skills training in the least developed countries, as well as other developing nations. Cisco relied on the expertise, local relationships, and support of its partners to facilitate implementation of the Networking Academy in the Least Developed Countries.

The LDC impact assessment study was developed to further strengthen the collaborative private/public partnership, and to learn about the effects it has had on individuals, communities and economies as well as to make recommendations for future program improvements, modifications or resource allocation. The study examined the program’s impact in six African nations: Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia. The countries were chosen to be representative of a wide variety of geographic areas, economies, and cultures. The metrics were chosen as the most appropriate to summarize the impact of the Africa LDC Initiative across the entire course of its existence. More than 600 students, instructors, employers and community leaders were surveyed. Of those students surveyed, 40 percent gained job opportunities and 12 percent began their own companies after completing one or more Cisco Networking Academy courses.

Other key findings include:

Building career pathways

Cisco Networking Academies provide students with hands-on networking experience that gives them an edge in the working world. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they found jobs after completing the program, and nearly three-quarters of those that found employment have positions that include networking functions.

Compared to other staff, 54 percent of employers said graduates from the program have much better skills than non-students. Specifically, employers said students’ networking skills and configuration planning were better than their peers. In addition, employers said they chose to hire graduates for their strong skills and not to save money or reduce staff.

“The beauty of the program is it equips people who already have jobs; it positions people who do not have jobs to be able to acquire those jobs” said one community leader in Kenya.

Boost for women

The Networking Academy opens new doors for African women in a field traditionally dominated by men. Currently 32 percent of students enrolled in African Academies are women, exceeding Cisco’s target of 30 percent female enrollment for the LDC Initiative. The majority of female respondents said they have more confidence and their career opportunities are better as a result of attending the program.

Impacting communities

Whereas the program has the most impact on individuals, the Cisco Networking Academies also shape the communities where they are located. Community leaders cited positive effects including more technology experts in the local area who are able to share their knowledge with others, and an overall raising of the community’s education level. And, for the first time, technical training is no longer limited to an elite few.

Fueling Innovation

The Cisco Networking Academy offers specific training that is unmatched by competitive programs. Students learn how to build, design and maintain computer networks. Community leaders stated a Cisco certificate gives job seekers more credibility. It has also fueled a wave of job creation in these markets, with participation in the program leading to over one in ten students surveyed starting their own business.

Through this public-private partnership, more than 40 new countries in Africa have been added to the Cisco Networking Academy. The LDC Initiative provides a compelling example of how business, international organizations and governments can work together to meet the urgent needs of LDCs, promote digital opportunity and contribute to the advancement of these countries.

For more information about the Cisco Networking Academy, visit:

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