“‘Why learning IT skills can lead to exciting opportunities for adult learners’ – By Nuno Guarda, program manager, corporate affairs at Cisco and supporter of Cisco Networking Academy

This week is Adult Learners’ Week, 14-20 June, puts the spotlight on how education can help change adults’ lives to improve social cohesion, economic vitality and social mobility. The Week encourages adults to upskill in all kinds of areas but, with 274,000 vacancies for IT professionals in Europe, digital skills should be key focus for those adult learners interested in finding new job opportunities.

While IT can seem like a daunting and alien subject for those of us who haven’t grown up in the digital age, adults should not shy away from considering a career in this area. Anyone from any age or background with the right support can improve their IT skills and boost their career prospects. It is important that those who work with adult learners are aware of this and are informed about the available qualifications and options.

I manage Cisco Networking Academy, a non-commercial ICT training programme that equips people of all ages to develop the skills to build, design and maintain computer networks. There are more than 300 Cisco Academies in the UK, helping people prepare for industry-recognised certifications and ICT careers in almost every type of industry. Through my work, I’ve seen some really inspiring examples of adult learners from all kinds of backgrounds achieving great things through retraining in IT.

For instance, Nayan Patel was 34 when she began learning IT with the support of 5E Ltd, a non-profit community learning group.  At the time she did not believe she could learn the skills needed to find employment due to her age and lack of experience. Through her studies, she gained the confidence she needed and has now obtained a job in PC repair.

Similarly, 29 year old Mohamed Hussein lost his job in 2011 as a result of the recession. He enrolled at 5E to study a Level 3 Diploma in IT Systems Support and continued to do further courses at Level 4 in IT networking. On completion of the Diploma and the Cisco CCNA certification in July 2013, he was offered a job at KPMG.

These are individuals who never dreamt about getting a career in IT but have made it happen with the support of local learning centres. While many adult learners may not even dream of a new career in IT, it is down to those around them to encourage and inspire them. And, following their studies, learners will find that there is a broad range of job opportunities out there for everyone.

Picture: Mohamed Hussein who has secured a job at KPMG”

Nuno Guarda, Cisco Networking Academy Online Blog – http://www.educationforeverybody.co.uk/guest-blog-adult-learners-week-creating-new-opportunities/

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