Building High-Tech Skills and Minority Representation
Managing the Minority Department of the Prime Minister of Israel's office since 2005, Hashem Hussein is responsible for a vast array of initiatives, ranging from education, infrastructure, tourism, welfare, and employment. In fact, his duties are so diverse, it was necessary to reschedule an interview with Mr. Hussein because he had been dispatched by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to marshal the relief efforts for the victims of Israel's catastrophic fire in November 2010.
From Education to TV and Public Service
After earning degrees in Middle Eastern studies and journalism, Hussein received his teaching certificate from Hebrew University. His academic background also includes training at the Mandel Institute for Leadership, as well as entrepreneurship and business administration education at Tel Aviv University and Tzur Lavon College.
Prior to his public service, Hussein managed an Israeli television station's staff of news editors. Hussein's extensive career also includes counseling in the Center for Democratic Studies in the Ministry of Education and serving as a member of the steering committee of the Science Regional School in Yarka village.
When asked why education and training for underrepresented social groups have been of such vital concern during his career, Hussein says, "I saw that there was a significant educational and employment gap throughout minorities in Israel. We must reach out to everyone to ensure the economic development of Israel."
Cisco Networking Academy Helps Achieve Greater Minority Representation
Minorities make up 20 percent of Israel's population, but only comprise 0.5 percent of the high-tech workforce. One such group is the Druze, whose culture is Arab and language is Arabic. The Druze community in Israel is officially recognized as a separate religious entity with its own courts and spiritual leadership. Opting against mainstream Arab nationalism in 1948, Druze have since served in the Israeli army.
According to Hussein, "The top priorities for education and training in Israel are for students to obtain relevant job skills, and to increase the number of Israelis who study and enter the fields of engineering and science." He continues, "Our goal is also to change the employment map in Israel to better reflect our population. Networking Academy assists me in fulfilling these priorities."
Guiding Force in Technology Training
Hussein says Cisco Networking Academy is compelling for teaching, learning, and vocational training for several reasons: "The graphic interface, online tests, and great materials make Networking Academy very attractive and effective. The up-to-date curriculum is very relevant to our job market and, as a result, we have made Networking Academy part of the core curriculum in Israel."
In addition to a curriculum that is relevant and job-oriented, what sets Networking Academy apart from other training programs is the crucial connection to employers. Without that connection, Hussein says, training is much less effective.
A Success Story—and Some Advice
Just one example of the effectiveness of Networking Academy comes from a networking class is Haifa: "We had a Cisco CCNA networking class in Haifa once. Of the 15 Druze students in the class, 11 started work as quality assurance engineers a month later. What is even more amazing is that these students had no previous employment experience. It was like magic!"
If given the opportunity to share advice with other education and training leaders around the world, Hussein says his recommendation would be: "Promote technological education and ensure that all of your country's social groups are tapped for your ICT workforce."