JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It’s been 20 years since Cisco’s Networking Academy was conceived, and on Tuesday, more than 100 people gathered at the Capitol to celebrate the success of the program.
Speaking before the crowd late Tuesday morning, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Public Sector Larry Payne told the audience what an honor it was to return to his home state and share the successes of the program. He also thanked local leaders for making STEM a priority for Missouri students.
“This is the 20th anniversary of our Cisco Networking Academy Program in Missouri. The Cisco Networking Academy is a program we developed in the 90’s to help fill the need and have an educated workforce for the IT industry,” Payne said. “What it does is it allows us to not only fill the needed positions, but it also allows students the opportunity to be trained and learn a craft that is very well-paid and very much in need.”
Over the past two decades, Cisco’s Networking Academy has served more than 28,000 Missouri students, helping to prepare and train students to fill the need for IT jobs, including careers in networking, coding, cybersecurity and technology entrepreneurship.
In Missouri, Cisco has invested more than $13 million to support 44 networking academies in the Show-Me State. The program has now reached global status, with academies in 121 countries, serving millions of students.
“So it also helps with economic development,” Payne said. “And we feel like it’s a win-win-win for the community, the student, and certainly the industry.”
“A lot of the students do stay here in Missouri,” Payne said, with four students sharing their stories with those in attendance of the event.
In an environment where students are struggling to pay for college loans or attend a four-year university, Payne says this program can go a long way to helping people get good, high-paying jobs. Currently, the average hourly wage for a STEM job in Missouri is $35.49, which comes in about $14.50 higher than the average wage for non-STEM jobs.
“This is an excellent opportunity for them to still get the training they need to be successful in this industry,” Payne said.
But for Payne, it was also a humbling experience to return home and see the good that his company is doing for the citizens of the Show-Me State.
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Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.