Cisco, MICT SETA, NIL, and Telcolink launch pilot project to upskill several specialized networking experts in South Africa

In South Africa, there are an estimated 829 800 positions for highly-skilled workers that need to be filled, say recruitment specialists Adcorp, of these Cisco estimates that 30 – 70 000 of these fall within the category of skilled technology workers. “These skills are just not available,” says Vernon Thaver, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Cisco SA. “At present there is a need for each country to fundamentally change in a digital way, but we lack the necessary human resource skills to do so. It’s also not just about simple upskilling, it’s about building the right skills that the market needs, with a focus on the specialisation in the Internet of Things (IoT).

A pilot project launched this week by Cisco is a step forward in addressing this need. The fulfilment will take a step forward in helping boost the country’s ailing economy, with a market related skills intervention that will see positive results in a year. The program will result in respectable expert masters specifically in the area of Networking.

The program, referred to as the Cisco CCIE 360 Learning Program is part of the bigger Cisco Legacy program, a collaboration with Telkom’s Futuremarkets, which focuses on driving innovation in the ICT sector by growing access to technology and by offering long-term support to its SMMEs. This ambitious project is a collaboration between Cisco, MICT SETA, NIL Data Communications and Telcolink.


The largest CCIE 360 Learning Program of its kind in the world

This Cisco CCIE 360 Learning Program project is the largest of its kind in the world. A 75-strong contingent of students, the largest group to be trained in this skill at one go, will spend the next year being up skilled in the sector. “The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) is accepted worldwide as the most prestigious networking certifications in the industry,” imparts Lesley Mamaila, Project Manager for the program. “What sets this project apart from other programs is that it is a demand-based approach,” says Mamaila. Cisco called on their partners and clients to submit the names and achievements of employees that could benefit from the training, after a rigorous selection process 75 of the 186 applications were accepted into the program.

Martin Camp, Regional Director for NIL Africa (the Cisco Learning Partner) says that the CCIE 360 Learning program will be implemented as a planned, structured, and co-ordinated and managed program that seeks to provide a specialised skill, where a designated mentor supports the selected candidates during the duration of the program. The CCIE 360 Routing and Switching will serve as a practical program and assist with the continuous development for future appointment in the labour market.


Dramatically improved job prospects

The second part of this project that warrants attention is the employment of the students after the program. With a high rate of skills program concluding after three months, to allow companies to re-apply for additional skills levy grants, these students are already employed and will simply hold a higher position on their return. “There is a dramatic improvement in post-graduation job prospects,” says Thaver.

The employers run across a series of verticals including telecommunications, FMCG, the public sector, financial services and FMCG. Some of the high-profile employers include Vodacom, MTN, Premium Foods and Sita. However, this program is not limited to the enterprise market, but also seeks to support SMMEs.


Supporting SMMEs

As part of Cisco’s SMMEs development program, Telcolink has been appointed as of the key strategic partner. The role that Cisco will play in Telcolink’s development is to share valuable business expertise and foster skills transfer in an effort to contribute in addressing government’s transformational and developmental imperatives, more so in the Enterprise Development space.

Cecil Mashawana, CEO of Telcolink says: “Research by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shows that small businesses are significant contributors to job creation, creating more than 50 percent of all employment opportunities in South Africa. This is why it is imperative for both private and public to invest in small businesses. We are grateful to be part of a program that provides companies like Cisco with an opportunity to play their part in developing SMMEs such as us. And furthermore, we are honoured for the opportunity to play a role in a learning program aimed at addressing the shortage of critical and scarce skills in the country.

As for concerns about trained employees  leaving for higher paid positions elsewhere, says Thaver, “rather you train them and they go, than not train them and they stay. It is this foundation that will pave the way to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.



The Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority known as the MICT SETA, the funder of the Cisco CCIE 360 program was established in terms of the Skills Development Act of 1998 and is responsible for skills development in the Advertising, Electronic Media, Film, Electronics, Information Technology, Telecommunication sectors and their sub-sectors.

The MICT Seta intends to engage in learning program that lead to employment and new venture creation, whilst at the same time engaging in program that assist in bridging the digital divide especially in townships and rural areas.


About NIL Data Communications Africa 

NIL is the learning partner running the CCIE 360 program on behalf of Cisco. Through field-proven experts — each both active engineer, content developer and instructor – NIL enhances the standard learning curriculum with real-life experience and help clients to maximise their training investment. Benefits include

  •  Rapid transfer of competences in the working environment
  • The possibility of intensive learning program and workshop
  • A variety of learning opportunities: classic classroom, e-learning, distance learning, to name a few
  • Instructors with wide practical experience
  • Personalised content schooling needs of the client


About Telcolink

Telcolink, the SMME partner working with NIL to run CCIE 360 program, is a Proudly South African Telecommunications and Consulting company that takes pride in the quality of work and services it provides. Telcolink was established in 2013 and the organisation is 100% black-owned with an Empowerdex rating of AA. 

Telcolink provides full end-to-end solutions to all of its clients’ business needs and this includes small, medium, and large organisations in the public and private sector. The company is a key national player in business consulting and advisory services field within the SA.


About Cisco

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