Competitive Edge with Technical and Interpersonal Skills
Starting with a master's degree in engineering from Northwestern Polytechnical University in China, Mr. Liu Cong has been committed to the development of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) throughout his professional career. Currently he serves as director of the Education Management Information Center for the Department of Education in Sichuan Province, China.
His contributions to the evolution of ICT extend far beyond the borders of Sichuan. Cong has authored several papers, including "The Comprehensive Guide to the Campus Network," "21st Century ICT Education," and "Setting up MIS [Management Information Systems] in Developing Countries." His stature in the education and training community is also reflected in the invitation he received from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to conduct research in the United States.
Cong explains why education and training are crucial for individual development in all fields, not just ICT: "Education is important for the personal growth of people — without it, individuals cannot develop to their fullest potential. Together education and training should be a lifelong career for everyone."
Skills Needed for a Successful Job Search
Sichuan province has 94 universities and colleges. Cong says, "Every year about 300,000 students graduate from these universities and colleges and all of them will be looking for jobs. For many of these students, the knowledge and skills they have acquired in school are insufficient for the demands of Chinese companies. These graduates have difficulty finding jobs after graduation."
Cong outlines what he believes are the top three priorities to consider when preparing students in Sichuan for careers in ICT:
Addressing the Skills Mismatch
Cisco Networking Academy was first initiated in Sichuan province in 1999. Cong explains: "Networking Academy courses are excellent for our students because we know, through our conversations with companies, that the training and teaching at the academy meet their needs."
Cong believes that a major advantage of Networking Academy is that the courses reflect the latest developments in ICT: "Networking Academy courses are very comprehensive and up-to-date, including not only theory, but also a substantial amount of practice. The teachers at the academy are very qualified because they must complete Network Academy training in order to be teachers at the academy. The training enhances the instruction the teachers deliver, but also guarantees the quality of the students graduating from Networking Academy." Cong adds: "Networking Academy instructors tell me that training at the academy is different from traditional training— Cisco training is systematic and very engaging. As a result, the students have better chances of getting good jobs in the job market."
At first, Cisco Networking Academy courses were delivered as independent, elective training. Subsequent recognition of the need for the courses prompted many of the universities to integrate Networking Academy training into their normal curriculum — as required courses.
Success Stories: Publicized Student and Promoted Teacher
Recently a student from a local Sichuan vocational college obtained Cisco CCIE certification. What he learned in Networking Academy courses spurred his interest in networking technologies, which prompted him to pursue CCIE certification. His accomplishment was highlighted in a special edition of the college newspaper. Soon after, the student received several job offers for network engineer positions.
Additional success for an instructor from the Chengdu University of Information Engineering came after his excellent work as both leader and instructor of Networking Academy courses. He was promoted and ultimately became an associate professor in computer engineering.
Cong says: "The collaboration between Cisco and Chinese universities and colleges is helping prepare students for jobs after graduation and enhancing instructors' teaching skills. The skills Networking Academy teaches are both technical and interpersonal and are what graduates need to secure jobs and meet the needs of enterprises."