Cisco aims to upskill 250,000 people by 2020

Tech giant announces several initiatives to help people in the UK to develop digital skills

Cisco is launching several initiatives aimed at giving 250,000 people in the UK digital skills by 2020.

The initiatives are part of a continuing partnership between Cisco, the UK government and the Digital Skills Partnership with the target of preparing the UK for a shift towards digital.

Scot Gardner, chief executive of Cisco UK & Ireland, said the UK’s future competitive advantage may depend on adapting to digital, so it is important for the country to have the appropriate skills.

The UK computing curriculum, designed to teach children between the ages of five and 16 computing concepts such as computational thinking, was part of the government’s plan to develop the tech skills pipeline, but many believe children and graduates are still leaving education without the skills needed to address the tech skills gap.

Gardner said: “The education system alone cannot be expected to keep up with the increasing skills gap, but if we, as technology leaders and future employers, partner with government and education to address the opportunity now, we can ensure that the UK cements its place as a digital leader.”

Although many young people believe the new computing curriculum helps give them the skills they need to deal with digital in the future, some teachers are struggling to deliver the curriculum because of a lack of tech or computing knowledge.

As part of Cisco’s plan to upskill people in the UK, the company has partnered with the Open University to launch an update to its Computing for Schools programme, which gives UK teachers training and resources to help them deliver the computing curriculum.

The programme was originally developed with help from Birmingham City University for teachers who had only basic computing skills, but it is now available to anyone in the UK, including students at various levels of the education system.

Read more about digital skills

  • Tech entrepreneur Emma Sinclair hopes to raise £150,000 to run an education programme for displaced young people in a Unicef programme that aims to develop skills that might otherwise be lost.
  • A digital T-level has been announced among the first of the new technical qualifications the UK is introducing to tackle technical skills gaps.

Cisco is also launching a programme to help people access digital skills training through libraries across the UK.

The programme will launch in Manchester, giving residents access to free courses to help develop digital skills such as getting online, and to introduce people to concepts such as the internet of things (IoT) and cyber security, with more libraries gaining these resources in 2018.

The tech firm has already trained more than 240,000 students in the UK through its Cisco Networking Academy, a network of students, educators and businesses committed to providing and learning IT skills.

As well as skills gaps in the technology industry, the UK suffers from a lack of basic digital skills, which is currently costing the UK economy an estimated £63bn a year.

Many believe collaboration between education providers, the government and the technology industry is the only way to ensure the UK population develops the digital skills that are needed now and in the future.  

Karen Bradley, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said: “As part of our digital strategy, the partnership with industry is helping to strengthen our world-leading digital sectors right across the country to ensure growth in every region.”

As part of Cisco’s training and education initiatives, the firm always aims to provide access to the appropriate skills at the time they are needed, give opportunities for everyone to develop digital skills, and use its networks to help as many people as possible.

Read more on IT education and training