Cisco partners were among the delegates at an event last night that saw the networking giant launch a new apprentice scheme.
The initiative is designed to ready candidates for a career in IT networking, which Cisco said is forecast to be one of the fastest-growing careers in the UK with more than 500,000 entrants expected over the next five years.
It is broken down into a 12-month advanced programme, which includes a Cisco CCNA certification, and a higher programme including a Cisco CCNP certification.
Created in response to employer demands, the scheme is being run in conjunction with Pearson and the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).
Ian Foddering, chief technology officer at Cisco UK and Ireland, said: "We have been aware for some time of the increasing demand from our partners and customers for apprentices with a strong Cisco knowledge."
Scott Fletcher (pictured), chairman of Cisco Gold partner ANS, said his firm plans to take on 32 apprentices this year and welcomed the fact that the vendor is also supporting the apprentice framework.
"It is a more relevant way of training young people for our industry than university, where you are getting £45,000 in debt and a qualification that is probably not relevant for the workplace," he added.
Fletcher said ANS is talking to Cisco and local comms provider Metronet about linking arms on a joint apprentice scheme that would see the candidates swap between the three firms.
"This would give them experience in different environments – us as an infrastructure player, Metronet on comms and Cisco as the vendor," he explained.
Vic Grimes, divisional apprenticeship director for NAS, London and the South East, said: "Recognising and developing talent in sectors such as IT is vital to stimulating economic growth.
"NAS has worked with Cisco to develop the validated advanced and higher apprenticeship programme and we want to work with other innovative employers to explore the full range of opportunities to secure the future of the IT workforce."
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