Cisco initiative bridges gap between first-jobbers and smaller businesses

Students on Cisco's Networking Academy Programme are being given targeted assistance to find their first networking jobs

Students on Cisco's Networking Academy Programme are being given targeted assistance to find their first networking jobs, after the network supplier found that many graduates of the course were not routinely finding work with potential employers.

Cisco has appointed SMEcentric, which promotes the use of network technologies among smaller companies, to match students with small and medium-sized businesses that are recruiting networking engineers.

Some 28,000 people in the UK and Ireland are studying for Cisco qualifications at any given time. Most of them are working towards Cisco certified network associate or professional qualifications.

Jane Lewis, networking academy manager at Cisco, said, "I do not think it is enough just to put someone through a course and expect them to find a suitable job. The IT industry is looking for people with the right skills who can be productive from day one. But in lots of instances they are not."

Cisco started matching its students with potential employers after many businesses said that they could not find recruits with the experience they needed.

Under the scheme, students are interviewed by SMEcentric when they start the Networking Academy Programme.

Lewis said, "SMEcentric understands the different qualifications that we offer and the skills that employers need, so it can identify the strengths and weaknesses of each student for different positions."

If students have weaknesses that would stop them from getting jobs, Cisco can provide additional training before they complete their studies. Cisco is also planning to teach non-technical business skills on its courses, after it found that many students needed additional training in communication skills.

Lewis said, "We are looking at how we can put out graduates with a broad set of business and technology skills, because not everyone will be targeting 100% technology roles."

So far, 10 companies, including BT iNet, Cisilion, CAE, Esscom, Gardiner Security, Lanz and Wstore, have used the service to find staff.

Peter Turner, managing director at systems integrator Cisilion, said, "It is difficult to find people with the right level of skill we need to maintain and grow our business. The graduates we have taken on through SMEcentric are extremely capable and talented individuals. We are confident that they have the right skills and aptitudes to add value to our business."

Some 58 students have been placed with employers since the scheme began 12 months ago.

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