May 09, 2008 11:30 ET

Cisco Agreement With the Government of Portugal to Improve Access to Networking Training, Narrow the ICT Skills Gap and Increase Employment Opportunities

Creation of 250 New Cisco Networking Academies Will Triple Number of Students

LISBON, PORTUGAL--(Marketwire - May 9, 2008) - The prime minister of Portugal, Jose Socrates, together with nine Ministers signed today a broad agreement with Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) to help bridge the anticipated skills gap in the networking sector through the expansion of Cisco's Networking Academy across Portugal. As a result of this agreement, the number of people studying information and communications technology (ICT) in the country is expected grow from around 3,000 to 10,000 by 2011.

Local networking academies will be opened throughout Portugal in universities, polytechnics, secondary schools, professional training centers, NGOs, prisons, army and security training centres. The agreement also includes a broad set of parallel initiatives such as cooperation in traineeships.

The ICT skills gap is a significant challenge to organizations, hindering advanced technology adoption, business competitiveness and economic growth. A shortage could hold back Europe's competitiveness in the global market and hinder the European Commission's policy goals. Set against IDC's advanced networking technology growth projections (18 per cent per year to 2008) and the European Union's plans to improve competitiveness through ICT -- greater shortfalls may occur.

The Cisco Networking Academy launched in Portugal in 1999. Since then over 100 academies have opened throughout the country. More than 3,000 students (8 percent female) are currently enrolled in the program and close to 6,000 have followed its courses since inception. Globally today the Networking Academy reaches 700,000 students through 9,000 academies across more than 160 countries. It is widely considered to be one of the largest and most successful public-private training programs in the ICT sector.

President of Cisco Europe, Chris Dedicoat, said: "We welcome the vision and openness of Portugal's political leaders to partner with the ICT industry. We believe that the set of initiatives defined in this agreement will boost the country's capabilities to compete in the global arena, well in line with Portugal's historical credits as the first truly global nation in the world."

The agreement was signed during the official inauguration of the new Cisco office in Lisbon, a modern 5,500 square meters facility utilising the latest Cisco technology including TelePresence. As well as being the centre for Cisco Portugal operations, the facility also houses the European Hercules center.

Virginia Pojo, a Cisco Networking Academy instructor from Porto, said, "As a teacher, Cisco Networking Academy allows me to know and understand the language of my students as future entrepreneurs of the Information Society. Cisco Networking Academy opens the door to a life of opportunities and gives you skills that change the way you look at the world."

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