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Cisco overhauls networking certification to address skills shortage

Cisco has announced the addition of a new entry-level certification, CCENT (Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician), along with enhancements to the popular Cisco CCNA associate-level certification.

Simultaneously, Cisco also plans to localise both the curricula and certification exams to meet the worldwide demand for networking skills.

Analyst IDC is predicting as much as a 40% gap between the demand and supply of technical networking skills by 2012. To address these needs, Cisco is making significant investments in its education and certification programs to equip more people for successful careers in networking.

CCENT presents a new point of entry to those just beginning to build a career in networking. As an optional stepping-stone to CCNA, CCENT validates the skills required to successfully install and verify basic networks – a requirement for most entry-level network support positions.

At the same time, Cisco's foundational CCNA curriculum has been revised to include a greater breadth of networking topics and more focus on performance-based skills to differentiate Cisco certified applicants in the IT job market.

The CCNA curriculum will be released in English on 26 July 2007, and the exams will be released in English on 1 August 2007. Additional languages will be announced as translation plans are finalised.

Wim Elfrink, chief globalisation officer and senior vice-president of customer advocacy at Cisco, said, "We are dedicated to leading worldwide development of the right technical expertise, in the right place and at the right time.

“The introduction of CCENT and localisation plans for our foundational curricula, underscore our commitment to accelerate the learning curve for technical talent across the globe," he said.

Laying the groundwork for more rigorous certification, CCENT validates the knowledge and skills needed to configure and verify small routed and switched networks, including the ability to configure IP addressing, implement basic security measures and understand the concepts of wireless networking.

A comprehensive understanding of networking fundamentals is the focus of CCNA, said Cisco.

Certification at this level validates the knowledge and skills required to install, operate and troubleshoot a small to medium-sized routed and switched network, including the ability to implement and troubleshoot protocols to manage addressing and authentication.

Students must also be able to establish and troubleshoot connections to service providers over a wide-area network.

The CCNA Prep Center  is available to anyone with a Cisco.com login to help candidates prepare for the CCENT and CCNA exams.

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