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

In 2010, a training center in Rome began building the next generation of IT professionals by combining employer funding and Cisco Networking Academy courses. ELIS ICT Academy is equipping Italy's young ICT professionals with the necessary skills to innovate in the digital workplaces of tomorrow.

A growing shortage of tech talent
In Europe, the gap between the number of ICT vacancies and the number of people qualified to fill them is expected to grow by 3 percent each year. This particularly true in Italy, where more than 3,000 technology jobs went unfilled in 2013, with an additional 4,000 vacancies anticipated by the end of 2015.

Lady with tabletWhen students finish their schooling, they typically leave without the skills needed to succeed in a world that’s more connected than ever before. By 2020, there will be more than 50 billion mobile devices, and the jobs of today will become the jobs of yesterday.

Employers recognise the need for motivated, goal-oriented, and hard-working individuals, with the skills to help them manage the devices and the data created by the billions of new connections.

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

According to Marco Stomeo, the centre’s Networking Academy program manager: “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 program, 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 industry 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 program has given more than 120 young men and women the chance to start training immediately and 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.

Renato agrees, adding that Punto COM’s customers enjoy working with the students. “We are always looking for professionals certified in Cisco CCNA and CCNP Routing & Switching areas, as well as Security and VoIP,” he said. “The most appreciated employees, both internally and by various customers, were the ones that attended Cisco Networking Academy courses at ELIS.”

Lorenzo Lanzani recently completed the program and now works for a local marketing company. Thriving in a connected economy
Lorenzo Lanzani completed the Vocational Master’s Training program in 2014, and found rewarding careers almost immediately upon earning his Cisco CCNA certifications.

Lorenzo was hired at Brandid, a marketing and communications company in Italy. Though he felt well-prepared for the role, he also recognises the need to adapt to the changing economy.

“CCNA Routing and Switching gives you an idea of networking,” he said. “To have a stable position in the future, it’s good to continue getting certified and to build your knowledge. You need to have very unique skills to earn a job.”

At ELIS ICT Academy, young people like Lorenzo are taking advantage of their newly acquired skills and getting hired all across Italy and beyond. The skills gap in the ICT remains a concern. But ELIS, and the Cisco Networking Academy and their partner companies, are doing their bit to equip students with the digital competences and play their part in narrowing the skills gap.

Contributed by: Cisco