Preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s networking careers Preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s networking careers

As a student at ELIS ICT Academy in Rome, Maria Jose Vallo earned her Cisco CCNA certification and developed the skills that employers seek in the connected economy.

Europe is currently facing a shortfall in skilled ICT professionals, with an expected shortage of 825,000 by 2020. This problem is much in evidence in Italy, where more than 3,000 technology jobs went unfilled in 2013, with an additional 4,000 unfilled vacancies anticipated by the end of 2015.

At ELIS ICT Academy, Italy’s oldest Cisco Networking Academy partner, students can build the skills that employers are looking for. In 2010, ELIS opened its Vocational Master’s Training programme, which revolutionises the transition from school to the workplace through a unique relationship with company partners.

Marco Stomeo, the centre’s Networking Academy programme manager, says, “Companies ask us to give the students different skills, like teamwork and building relationships. Combined with Cisco CCNA training, we give them the soft skills they’ll need when they go to work.

A new employment model

As part of the Vocational Master’s Training programme, ELIS’s partners sponsor individual loans to more than 25 students each year. Luca Lepore, a Cisco Networking Academy manager, says the relationships benefit both the companies and the students.“We are in direct sponsorship with our partners,” he said. “They loan money to students to train at ELIS, then ask the students to return the cost after 2 to 3 years of working.”

Over 12 months, students take Networking Academy courses and have a chance to earn their Cisco CCNA certification. They attend classes both online and in person, where they learn how to do things like prepare for a job interview, configure a wireless router, and speak in public.

Renato Camilli, a human resources specialist at ICT support company Punto COM, one of the training centre’s company partners has seen the success of the ELIS ICT Academy first-hand. “We realised that the Cisco Networking Academy training at ELIS ICT Academy, thanks to experienced instructors and intensive hands-on networking labs, not only prepares excellent professionals with advanced technical skills, but also empowers students with the right soft skills to be successful in the market,” he said.

Since 2010, the programme has given more than 120 young men and women the chance to start training, and to later find internships or jobs with the sponsoring companies. For companies, it guarantees the students they hire will have the skills they seek, from a Cisco CCNA certification, to the ability to communicate clearly with customers.

“The training is wider than just Cisco Networking Academy,” Luca said. “We give students a more extended preparation,” - which ensures they will thrive once they join one of ELIS’s partner companies.

Thriving in a connected economy

Maria was hired at Clink, a help desk provider in Italy. She knows how to troubleshoot a computer and install an operating system, but believes her most valuable skill is her creativity.

“Computing allows me to make anything I imagine possible,” said Maria. “As a woman, I can communicate efficiently and have the imagination and creativity to complete any project.”

At ELIS ICT Academy, young women like Maria are taking advantage of their newly acquired skills and filling hundreds of job vacancies in Italy. The ICT skills gap may not be filled in a day, but ELIS, Cisco Networking Academy, and countless partner companies are combining their efforts to train dozens of students and make a positive impact each year.

Contributed by: Cisco