Corporate Social Responsibility

Case Study: Junior Networking Program

Helping young people in Italy launch IT careers

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In Italy, youth unemployment is high, and even promising graduates can struggle to find work. The Junior Networking program, which connects Cisco Networking Academy students with internships at local IT companies, is helping skilled candidates launch their careers. Of the 150 students who have participated since 2010, 97% are now employed.

The Issue: Youth unemployment at an all-time high

According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics, the proportion of young jobless people aged 15 to 24 has rarely dropped below 20 percent since 2004, and has been climbing steadily since 2011. The problem is so serious that Serena Sorrentino, the confederate secretary of Italy’s main trade union, Cgil, has said that “youth unemployment is a dramatic national emergency.”

  • In January 2014, youth unemployment hit an all-time high of 42.4% (Istat)
  • Decreases in public funding are impacting educational programs that prepare young people to join the workforce (European Social Fund, 2014)
  • Unioncamere, an Italian trade union, found in 2012 that 38 percent of junior IT professionals need further training

The Solution: Customized job placement

In 2009, building on its success as an award-winning Cisco Vocational Training Center, the Italian Networking Academy eForHum partnered with Cisco Italy to launch the Junior Networking program, a project that fills the gap between IT secondary school and the Italian job market. Each year, eForHum invites up to 30 of the most talented students in its Networking Academy IT Essentials course to join the program.

  • Participants attend Cisco CCNA training and then do a 5- or 6-month internship with one of 40 companies sponsoring the program.
  • The 40 sponsors include ISPs, system integrators, and ICT consulting companies.
  • Companies sponsor the number of students they forecast to employ, providing each one with a scholarship for obtaining Cisco certifications.
  • 150 students have participated in the program since 2010, and 97% have found jobs in ICT.

Impact Multiplied

The Junior Networking program helps students gain valuable skills and helps companies gain well-trained young talent. Two program graduates, Ivan Saliu and Vlad Olariu, now work at the IT consulting company Dimension Data Italy. Says Ivan, “The enterprise came to us. They told us what they do, what they offer, and what they were looking for in a junior resource.” Vlad adds, “Without the knowledge I acquired in the program, I would not be where I am today.”

  • Within 6 months of completing the program, 97 percent of participants have found jobs.
  • Students build a professional network while helping companies do business.
  • Sponsor companies share their knowledge with young talent by contributing to training courses.
  • The high employment rate for Junior Networking graduates makes it easier for eForHum to attract the best students.