Cisco Tweaks Certifications To Tackle IT Talent Crunch

VoIP wireless

The vendor is adding three new optional technology concentrations to its Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) career certification: CCNA Security, CCNA Voice and CCNA Wireless.

The new CCNA concentrations will be worked into Cisco's various channel partner specializations as they come due for curriculum refreshes, said Alex Thurber, senior director of technology go-to-market strategy for worldwide channels at Cisco.

Thurber said the IT talent shortage is top of mind for Cisco partners around the globe.

"When I meet with partners, consistently the No. 1 factor is talent," Thurber said.

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The San Jose, Calif., company also launched Cisco Learning Network, a new online forum that aims to foster collaboration between networking professionals. Cisco is positioning the effort as a social learning site that uses Web 2.0 technologies so that IT workers can get access to experts and the community at large to develop their careers.

Both moves, unveiled at the vendor's Cisco Live education and training conference in Orlando, Fla., are part of Cisco's efforts to help channel partners and customers tackle the IT talent shortage.

"As workers come into new fields at the associate level, it expands the talent pool greatly for our partners and our customers," said Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, general manager of Learning@Cisco. Cisco estimates that the market need for networking-skilled IT staff will hit 3 million people by 2012.

The number of IT networking roles and the types of skills needed by IT departments are on the rise, said Robert Whitley, principal analyst and research director at Forrester Research. A recent Forrester study showed, for example, that 40 percent of IT managers currently have a dedicated position for voice/communications, while 29 percent plan to add additional dedicated positions in the next five years.

The new CCNA concentrations are designed to help meet the need for more specialized networking skills, Beliveau-Dunn said.

"Wireless, voice and security services are now table stakes," she said.