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Cisco in major drive to ease Asia-Pacific skills shortage

US-based Cisco will invest in the development of 400,000 networking professionals over the next five years, to help address the IT skills shortage in Asia-Pacific.

Vatsun Thirapatarapong, managing director of Cisco in Thailand and Indochina, said the tech giant was committed to meeting the critical demand for high-skill workers through strategic programmes and collaborations for current and future generations.

"We are now entering the Internet of Everything phase, in which the network plays a critical role. It must provide an intelligent, manageable and secure infrastructure that can scale to support billions of people, intelligent devices and 'things' [such as sensors]," he said.

To support talent enablement in key areas and reduce this growing skills gap, Learning@Cisco Learning@Cisco - along with its partners - will deliver a new portfolio, consisting of Internet of Things (IoT) curricula, assessments and an upcoming Cisco Specialist Certification to advance skills development in industrial networking.

"Cisco's unmatched expertise in network technology transitions makes us uniquely positioned to help customers capture the value of the Internet of Everything. Through the Cisco Networking Academy and our world-class certification program, we can help to train the workforce and address the skills gap in Asia-Pacific and position graduates for the exciting world ahead in which nearly everything will be connected," said Vatsun.

Thai academies

In Thailand, the Cisco Networking Academy - which has 51 branches - delivers classroom instructions, online teaching materials and interactive tools to students, so that they can develop the knowledge and skills required to succeed in a technology-driven market.

More than 33,700 students have been trained since the programme was launched, and 35 per cent of the students are female. More than 6,000 students are currently enrolled in the Thai academy network.

This training and certification initiative, introduced at the "Internet of Things World Forum", will help meet the growing need for specialised talent that can provide Internet Protocol networking expertise, with a focus in automation, manufacturing and energy and future expansion to include equally transformative industries.

International Data Corp's (IDC) "The Evolution of the Networking Skills Gap in Asia/Pacific" study shows that by 2016, there will be a skills gap of more than 400,000 networking professionals across the region, which will represent a large segment of the 2 million unfilled ICT-related jobs globally within 10 years.

Rapid economic growth in Asia-Pacific fuels the need for networking technologies as companies expand their operations, adding and renewing their outdated IT infrastructure.

Proliferation of new technologies like mobility, unified communications and cloud services also drives the importance of network technologies for the companies, as they serve a crucial part of the business backbone.

Local shortage

Also, according to the IDC survey, 31 per cent of Thai companies interviewed indicated difficulty in finding qualified candidates. The primary reason for difficulty in hiring networking professionals is the difficulty finding technically qualified candidates who can understand and communicate well.

Thailand's moderate growth amid a reliance on foreign investment, exports and low-wage labour is pushing the government's development goals toward higher productivity, a greater focus on sustainable development and people-centred development.

The country's software industry also continues to experience strong growth due to sound government policies, resulting in an expanding technical labour force and an increasingly hi-tech infrastructure.

Investment incentives related to high-technology manufacturing and services, and associated research and development are receiving top priority on government mandates.

However, growth in human capital has not caught up with economic growth of the country. So the shortfall in skilled labour is still a key challenge in the Kingdom.

Despite the apparent shortage, the primary cause is not the shortage of graduates but the skills mismatch, in terms of relevant technical qualification and communication skills, among others, says the IDC report.


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