Corporate Social Responsibility

Impact Story: Employability Rome

Preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s networking careers

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The city of Rome wasn’t built in a day – monuments like the Colosseum took years. 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 innovating and building to last – this time to help close Europe’s skills gap.

A growing shortage of tech talent

In Europe, the gap between the number of available jobs and the number of people qualified to fill them is expected to grow by 3 percent each year. This is especially true in Italy, where more than 3000 technology jobs went unfilled in 2013 and another 4000 vacancies will exist by the end of 2015.

When students finish their schooling, they typically leave without the skills to succeed in a world that’s more connected than ever before. Every day, more phones, tablets, and computers connect to the Internet. By 2020, more than 50 billion of these devices will exist, and the jobs of today will become the jobs of yesterday.

Employers recognize the need for more 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 oldest Cisco Networking Academy partner, students can build the skills that employers are looking for. In 2010, ELIS opened its Vocational Master’s Training program, which revolutionizes the transition from school to the workplace through a unique relationship with company partners.

Marco Stomeo, the center’s Networking Academy program 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 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, has seen the success of the ELIS ICT Academy firsthand – Punto COM is one of the training center’s company partners.

“We realized 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.”

Thriving in a connected economy

Maria Jose Vallo and Lorenzo Lanzani completed the Vocational Master’s Training program in 2014 and found rewarding careers almost immediately upon earning their Cisco CCNA certifications.

Lorenzo was hired at Brandid, a marketing and communications company in Italy. Though he felt prepared to succeed, he also recognizes 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.”

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,” she said. “As a woman, I can communicate efficiently and have the imagination and creativity to complete any project.”

At ELIS ICT Academy, young men and women like Maria and Lorenzo 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.

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“The most appreciated employees, both internally and by various customers, were the ones that attended Cisco Networking Academy courses at ELIS.”
— Renato Camilli, HR specialist, Punto COM