Cisco launches initiative to help everyone in the UK develop digital skills

Digital opportunity for everyone. For individuals, communities and organisations across the UK. As part of its commitment to support digitisation in the UK, Cisco has announced initiatives to help everyone in the UK develop their digital skills. In doing so, the company is pledging to help train a further 250,000 people in the UK by 2020.

Underpinned by the Cisco Networking Academy, which celebrates its 20th year and over 240,000 students in the UK, Cisco will work with education, government, industry and communities, in an effort to skill or retrain individuals from across the UK and develop the next generation of talent required for the digital economy to thrive.

“The future competitiveness of the UK will be determined by our commitment as a nation and as employers, to ensure that we have the skills required for a thriving digital economy. 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.” said Scot Gardner, Chief Executive of Cisco UK & Ireland.

He added “The commitment that we make today is based on our belief that everyone should have access to the right training, when they need it.”

Today’s announcement from Cisco is part of its ongoing collaboration with the UK government and the Digital Skills Partnership. The government-led partnership brings together technology companies, local businesses, local government, charities and other organisations to share knowledge and best practices, to ensure the UK can close the digital skills gap.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley (Pictured) said: "I'm delighted that Cisco will provide free training for 250,000 people as part of the Digital Skills Partnership. This is in addition to the 200,000 people they have already helped in UK through their Networking Academy.

"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."

To deliver on the pledge, Cisco is launching two new initiatives that address all levels of education, and are available at the heart of the community:

Providing support for the teaching of Computing in Schools: Cisco has partnered with The Open University to launch a ‘Computing for Schools’ programme. The initiative provides teachers across the UK with training and resources to help them deliver the computing curriculum. Developed in partnership with Birmingham City University, initially for teachers who in many cases have only basic computer literacy training, the programme is accessible to anyone in the UK, including for the eight and a half million school age children. The course provides the tools to support development of computing and digital skills across all key stages.

For students starting from five years old, the Computing for Schools programme offers greater insight and skills that can be applied in the real-world. Learning starts with understanding the differences between the Internet and the World Wide Web, how to use the Web and watch out for misleading information. E-safety is at the heart of the materials with themes of ‘safe and responsible use’ being woven through the curriculum. Younger students tackle the types of problem solving required in computer networking and using tools like Packet Tracer build a simulation of their home networks. This helps them understand how ‘things’ are all connected and how we have to be ‘security aware’ so that this connectivity is not exploited for malicious or criminal purposes. As students progress through key stages or proficiency level, the programme further develops all of the concepts to GCSE levels.

Making digital skills training accessible through Libraries: Cisco is launching a programme to provide access to digital skills training in libraries across the nation. Available first in Manchester, the birthplace of the public library in the UK. In all 22 libraries in Manchester, including the iconic Central Library, residents will have free access to courses that range from the basics of getting online, to providing an introduction to the Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity. Following the launch in Manchester, other cities are set to introduce the programme in early 2018.