Cisco to address the digital skills gap in Malaysia, aims to train 141k people by 2032

Cisco to address the digital skills gap in Malaysia, aims to train 141k people by 2032. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)

Cisco to address the digital skills gap in Malaysia, aims to train 141k people by 2032

  • Cisco aims to develop an equitable and inclusive workforce in Malaysia.
  • Via Cisco Networking Academy, the networking giant pledged to equip 141,000 Malaysians with digital skills for in-demand jobs over the next 10 years.

In the 25 years since it was founded, Cisco Network Academy (NetAcad) has been around in Malaysia for 23 years, and has trained close to 130,000 people for jobs in the digital economy. The long-standing global networking academy program has meant to bridge the gap to employment opportunities — and it did exactly that. Today however, demand for digital skills is greater than ever as a shortage of workers with expertise has created a deficit in the job market, including in Malaysia.

To address that, Cisco, via its network academy, has pledged to equip (including reskilling and upskilling) 140,000 Malaysians with digital skills for in-demand jobs over the next 10 years. Cisco looks to achieve its commitment via its well-established ecosystem of public-private partnerships and employers as well as through collaboration with Networking Academy, and a program strategy as well as measurement framework.

Digital skills gap, as Cisco’s Senior Vice President and the Global Innovation Officer Guy Diedrich puts it, has resulted from a shift towards digitalisation, with the emergence of new professions alongside the displacement of other roles that now require continued digital training. “At this point, we are not taking on the challenge of technology, but it is a challenge of the digital age, and we need a full force to have Malaysia compete globally,” he told reporters at a media briefing yesterday.

“If you are connecting the unconnected at a rapid rate, every new connection is a new opportunity, with the right security. If you’re connecting the unconnected at a very rapid rate with the wrong security or no security, every new connection is a new threat. It’s a new vulnerability and we have to accept that. That is why we have dramatically expanded our cybersecurity offerings through Networking Academy,” Diedrich added.

Adding to that, Cisco Systems Malaysia’s managing director Hana Raja said the area of focus for NetAcad in Malaysia, based on their new target, would be to train the workforce and students to be well-informed and equipped with the right cybersecurity knowledge and skillset. “Cybersecurity has become a real force because there’s a shortage of three million cybersecurity professionals around the world and to till those jobs are key. Most of them don;t require a four-year long degree but merely good and sufficient training.”

Hana reckons students or employees can become very good cybersecurity technicians by simply taking on the Networking Academy training and “make yourself available to most incredible jobs around the world,” she told reporters. Currently, Hana said NetAcad has 22, 921 students for the year with 418 active instructors and 119 partner organizations that are offering Cisco’s courses.

For context, demand for people with high-level digital skills is greater than the supply of suitably qualified employees, and the gap is growing. The World Economic Forum estimates that by this year emerging technologies will generate 133 million new jobs in place of the 75 million that will be displaced. “There may be no more important undertaking moving forward that we do as governments, industries and academics than reskilling the workforce for the digital age. Reskilling is critical,” Diedrich added, stating that the stark reality today is that skill sets, even amongst government workforce, are not keeping pace with technological change.

Essentially, both Diedrich and Hana iterated that in today’s digital age, the list of skills and knowledge is changing all the time; for example, what it means to be a network engineer today is very different from how it would have been ten or even five years ago. The top priority, according to them, is to make sure workforce keeps pace with the evolution of skills required in their roles.