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The shortage of skilled IT staff has  been on CIOs’ minds for years, particularly those with cyber security expertise.

To meet that demand Cisco Systems has announced a global program of with free scholarships worth $10 million for those wanting to take three months of training to earn a new Cisco security certification.

“Many CEOs across the globe tell us their ability to innovate is hampered by their security concerns in the digital world,” Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, vice president and general manager of Cisco Services, said in a release. “This creates a big future demand for skill sets that don’t exist at scale today. We developed this scholarship program to help jump-start the development of new talent.

“This includes the opportunity to help diversify the IT security industry by reaching people around the world including veterans, women and those early in their careers, to inspire them to enter the cybersecurity profession. This is just a start to help us educate, train and reskill the job force to become the security IT professionals needed to help address this vast talent shortage.”

Cisco says that over 80 per cent of companies say they can’t find the security talent they need. Even those who are able to hire qualified staff find it takes six months to a year to get them, says Cisco, “and they pay significant premiums in salary because of the fierce competition.”

The online training, to be delivered over the next two years, by select Cisco Authorized Learning Partners, will consist of two courses and two assessments, mentoring and coaching aimed at those who want to be a security operations centre analyst. They will learn the new Cisco Certified Network Associate Cyber Ops Certification. Note that at the beginning course material is only in English. Applicants can sign up here.

To qualify candidates should have competency in at least one of the following: A Cisco certification (CCENT or higher); an industry certification (such as ISC2, CompTIA Security+, EC-Council, GIAC, ISACA; a Cisco Networking Academy letter of completion (CCNA 1 and CCNA 2) ; Windows Expertise: ( Microsoft Specialist, MCSA, MCSE, CompTIA A+, Network+, Server+; or Linux Expertise (including CompTIA Linux+_, Linux Professional Institute (LPI) Certification, Linux Foundation Certifications (LCFS, LCFE), Red Hat Certifications (RHCSA, RHCE, RHCA), Oracle Linux Certifications (OCA & OCP).

Cisco [Nasdaq: CSCO] also said it is trying to ensure a broad group of people qualify. In addition to spreading the word through the Cisco Networking Academy, it is also working with the IoT World Forum Women in IT talent pool, and a number of veterans’ organizations in several countries to encourage women and veterans to apply.

Candidate have to commit to complete the certification within a three months and to provide a success story that can be used in Cisco marketing. Scholarship awards are available from August 1 until the end of July 2017.

Separately Cisco also announced a  new Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Cyber Ops certification for those wanting to be security analysts, and a revised Cisco CCIE Security certification, which addresses new expert-level skills and education needed to prepare security personnel for evolving technologies and security threats.

 



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