SOURCE: GCR Custom Research

July 09, 2007 10:00 ET

Networking Academies Boost Career Opportunities in Least Developed Nations

Program Fuels Job Readiness, Information Technology (IT) Skills, Increased Opportunities for Women, and Interest in IT and Networking Careers

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire - July 9, 2007) - GCR Custom Research along with Cisco, the Cisco Learning Institute (CLI), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced the results of a commissioned study that examines how the Cisco Networking Academy is affecting developing countries in Africa.

The Cisco Learning Institute worked with these partners of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Initiative to determine goals, definition of impact and strategy for evaluation. "The results indicate that the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Initiative is having a strong positive impact on developing nations," said Ross Barker, Vice President, GCR Custom Research. "The study, which specifically examined six African nations that are part of the 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 and General Manager of Cisco Networking Academy. "We are proud to be able to demonstrate such progress in this, the tenth year of the Networking Academy, and look forward to making additional strides over the next ten years."

Overall, the Cisco Networking Academy has been providing people 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 in July 2000 following the Okinawa G-8 Summit hosted by the government of Japan. 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 Programme (UNDP), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) to provide internet-based learning and IT skills training in the Least Developed Countries, as well as other developing nations. The expertise, local relationships, and support of the partners facilitated the implementation of the Networking Academy in the Least Developed Countries.

The LDC Independent Impact Assessment study was developed to further strengthen the collaborative private/public alliance, 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, 62 percent found job opportunities and, of those, 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 31 percent of students graduating from the Cisco Certified Network Associate courses are women, exceeding the target of 30 percent female participation 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. Describing the impact the program has had on her life, one female student from Cameroon comments, "because of the Cisco program I have a job and I find so much fun in it as a woman."

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 global development alliance, 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: http://www.cisco.com/go/netacad

About GCR Custom Research

GCR Custom Research is a full service market research firm serving the technology sector for over 25 years. GCR's team of some of the best analytical minds in the business brings insight and solutions to the challenges facing companies in the fast-changing technology world, where staying ahead of the competition is essential. GCR uses qualitative and quantitative methodologies to deliver data-based answers to tough questions about markets, customers, competition, trends and opportunities. For more information, visit: www.gcrinsight.com.

About Cisco Learning Institute

Cisco Learning Institute is a non profit organization committed to innovation in education on a global scale through integrating technology and evaluation into instructional design, delivery, and support. We partner with other nonprofits, educational institutions, and professional organizations to develop scalable and sustainable solutions to improve the quality of learning experiences of teachers and students. For more information, visit: http://www.ciscolearning.org/

About Cisco Systems

Cisco is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Information about Cisco can be found at http://www.cisco.com. For ongoing news, please go to http://newsroom.cisco.com.

About United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

UNDP is the UN's global network to help people meet their development needs and build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working as a trusted partner with Governments, civil society and the private sector to help them build their own solutions to global and national development challenges. Further information can be found at www.undp.org

About U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.

For more information, please visit www.usaid.gov.com

About the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues, and the global focal point for governments and the private sector in developing networks and services. For more than 140 years, ITU has coordinated shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, and established the worldwide standards that assure seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. For more information, please visit http://www.itu.int

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