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Daily CSR
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Global Initiatives in IT Career Transitions for Veterans: Success Stories from Cisco Networking Academy


Often, the brave individuals who serve in the military don’t receive the recognition they deserve, despite the potential risks they face in their line of duty. It’s only fair to give back to these individuals, especially those transitioning from military service. Cisco Networking Academy takes pride in collaborating with global organizations that cater to the unique needs of active and retired military personnel.

In Australia, Soldier On, a non-profit organization, offers support services to current and former personnel of the Australian Defence Force and their families, helping them transition smoothly into civilian life. These services include psychological support, employment assistance, educational programs, and community engagement activities.

Amy Cooper, the CEO of Soldier On, has a personal connection to these needs, with her father-in-law being a former military personnel and her partner currently serving in the Australian Defence Forces. Amy’s role in the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide reference committee further enhances her understanding of the issues faced by veterans and their families.

In Australia, a Royal Commission is an independent public inquiry with the authority to call witnesses, seize documents, and accept public submissions. The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, established in 2021, investigates systemic issues and risk factors related to veteran suicides, providing a comprehensive analysis of the contributing factors. The Commission has received over 4,000 submissions so far.

“One of the interesting pieces that have come out of the Royal Commission is the fact that around 80 percent of the veterans go on to have really successful civilian lives,” says Amy. “Unfortunately, 20 percent face really significant challenges.”

Amy points out that this is crucial as there’s a growing number of military personnel transitioning to civilian life. Traditionally, around 5,000 individuals make this transition each year. However, this year, it’s expected to be nearly 7,000, a number that has been steadily increasing over the past three years.

Interestingly, there’s a trend of younger veterans, ranging from 25 to mid-30s, leaving the service. This shift in demographics alters the type of support needed for these transitioning veterans.

This year, Soldier On is providing assistance to approximately 11,000 service members, veterans, and their families. The organization offers programs focused on health and wellbeing, employment assistance, education, and community integration.

“What attracts people to serve their nation is often very values-driven,” says Amy. “It’s about being able to serve and support the community and often they’re looking for roles that have that same altruistic service or are an intrinsic value to them.”

“Cisco Networking Academy is a strong part of our mission, particularly for our veterans and family members to thrive,” she says. “It is really focused on that positive aspect of being able to offer practical support through a range of education opportunities that the partnership provides… the courses have been a great opportunity to get many of our participants into the IT industry.”

“The very nature of the program, being very skills directed, provides good options for participants as they balance serving, or starting to think about that transition time, which is often a very busy time with relocating,” says Amy. “I think that’s a tremendous investment in veterans and their families.”

Supporting veterans globally
Soldier On isn’t the only organization dedicated to assisting veterans transition into new careers. In the UK, TechVets, another partner of Cisco Networking Academy, aids over 20 individuals each month to embark on new careers in IT. TechVets was established to tackle the rapidly growing tech skills gap and the issue of unemployment and underemployment within the British Military Forces community.

In the US, Cisco, a consistently recognized Top 10 Military Friendly Employer, offers a variety of programs to help veterans transition into meaningful IT careers. This includes Onward to Opportunity, a program by Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) that assists service members, veterans, and their spouses in their journey to meaningful employment post-military service.

IVMF, also a partner of Cisco Networking Academy, is committed to serving military personnel and is part of CyberVetsUSA, a fully-sponsored workforce development initiative that does incredible work in helping veterans transition into high-demand tech jobs.

Cisco also operates CX Apprenticeship Programs in the US and India to develop networking skills for non-traditional candidates, leading to potential interview opportunities for the highly technical role of a Technical Consulting Engineer in Cisco’s Customer Experience organization. Approximately a third of the current cohort are veterans.

Success stories from Cisco Networking Academy
In France, Arnaud, who served in the Army, realized the importance of reliable communications. After his service, he knew he wanted a future in IT. After undergoing training with Cisco Networking Academy, he now works as a Network Engineer for a French ISP.

Vanessa, a former Brazilian Army member, became interested in cybersecurity after leaving the service. She took the CyberOps Associate course with Cisco Networking Academy and now works as a cybersecurity analyst.

Michael, who served in Iraq and was a firefighter, had to end his firefighting career due to an injury. This led him to pursue a career in cybersecurity incident response. Through training with Cisco Networking Academy, Michael discovered a new passion in the field, fueled by his dedication to service and continuous learning.