Cisco has unveiled a Partner Talent Portal for the Middle East and Africa (MEA), providing regional channel partners with access to local Cisco Network Academy graduates and Cisco certified talents.

The new Partner Talent Portal features curricula vitae and profiles of local Cisco Network Academy graduates to help facilitate the connection between Cisco channel partners and this talent pool.
Already live and accessible to Cisco partners in South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia, the portal provides partners with a fast and effective way to find qualified candidates while allowing for a much-needed inflow of talent into the overall industry.
"The Middle East and Africa as a whole is experiencing tremendous IT growth and people are the heart of this boom. Finding the right talent to support this growth is a critical challenge for both Cisco and our partners,” says Prabashni Pillay, Cisco South Africa channel manager. "To help our partners successfully address today’s skills and talent shortage, we must look beyond the traditional channel strategies that have focused on providing partner training and programmes.
"With the Partner Talent Portal, we are taking an active role in helping partners tackle business critical issues such as recruiting, retaining and developing talent.”
According to an IDC study commissioned by Cisco in 2007, the skills gap is even more extreme when certain technology areas are singled out. For example, the shortfall between supply and demand in advanced networking technology skills (IP telephony, security and wireless) will be 35% in 2009. This gap is in contrast to findings from Western and Eastern Europe that showed an average advanced networking skills gap of 15.8% by 2008.
Cisco will continue to work with local universities to create a global list of profiles for all Network Academy graduates.  The Middle East and Africa portal has already been accessed by more than 700 Cisco certified partners, and features over 1 000 posted curricula vitae, with more being added on a daily basis. This highlights the portal’s ability to facilitate the initial recruitment phase by helping partners source the right candidates, at the right time and with the right skill sets.
The Cisco Networking Academy Programme recently marked its 10-year anniversary providing Information Technology skills to students globally to improve their career and economic opportunities. Networking Academies operate in high schools, colleges, universities, technical and military schools, community-based organisations and government bodies.
Its curriculum combines the theory and practice of designing, developing and implementing the networks that underpin businesses and other organisations. In addition, its advanced technology curricula in areas such as security, wireless and Internet Protocol telephony provide exposure to the latest technology skills in those fields. It also has a module teaching basic IT skills.
Cisco's Networking Academy Programme helps students achieve networking and IT certification, while the portal sets graduates on the path to successful careers. The new portal will fulfil an important, but often overlooked, role in academia whilst educational institutions continue to be actively involved in providing students with training, as well as career guidance.