Last July, Cisco signed a memorandum of agreement with Republic Polytechnic to integrate its security training program, the Cisco CCNA into the tertiary institution’s Diploma in Information Technology (IT).
According to the press release, these students are set to benefit from the CCNA security certification, skills and access to high-paying and in-demand jobs in the network security industry. The program saw students get trained in how they can develop a security infrastructure, identify threats and vulnerabilities to networks and mitigate security risks.
In addition to this memorandum of agreement, Republic Polytechnic and Cisco worked on a project for final-year students in the aforementioned Diploma program.
These final-year students are tasked to develop a working prototype of a mobility-focused physical demonstration unit, a Web portal for information access, a video and a demonstration script. Mentored by Cisco engineers and taught to develop outcomes based on both business needs and customer applications, these students worked toward the ultimate goal of having their project being displayed at Cisco’s new regional headquarters at Changi.
While reading about this, it reminded me about how important it is that youths get their hands dirty with real world experience – even while they are still schooling. Sure, they could venture to the other side of the spectrum where they sit in their dorm rooms and create the next Facebook, but it doesn’t always work that way. We celebrate the adventurous, brave and passionate — but in all honesty, most 17 and 18-year-olds do not even know what they want to do with their lives.
Still tinkering with clouded ambitions and dreams, is it enough to just have school experience? I believe many would answer this question with a resounding “no”. Sure, you can get into internships and/or work on your own side projects during holidays. You could even juggle these side projects and school at the same time. It’s not impossible; it’s just hectic. However, I think it would be great if students could work with established companies throughout their school term.
Having heard both locals and foreigners praise Singapore for the top-notch startups it has nurtured and raised through the years, one thing is for certain: the opportunities available for youths in this city-state are endless.
Aside from Cisco’s Networking Academy, the international company is also collaborating with schools to bring cloud computing centers, a green data center which promotes virtual desktops, into Singapore Polytechnic and the Institute of Technical Education respectively in 2011.
Opportunities are, indeed, endless
Cisco is not the only one who has actively sought out schools and youths in a “catch-them-while-they-are-young” fashion, or actively build infrastructure while partnering these educational institutions. Microsoft and Red Hat, along with a bevy of traditionally established tech companies, have also dedicated resources into helping the younger generation grow.
Microsoft, for one, deserves a medal for its efforts in providing opportunities to youths all over the world. In this case, we will concentrate on what it has done in Singapore. Its most visible attempt at bringing students on an international stage would be the Imagine Cup, an annual technology competition for students.
Earlier in July, two teams from Singapore were chosen to participate in the 11th Imagine Cup Worldwide held in St Petersburg, Russia. Team vSoft Studio from Singapore won first place for one of the sub-challenges — the Windows Phone Challenge — with its app Speak Reminder.
Microsoft also helps students who wish to see their ideas transformed into real-life businesses through its BizSpark program. It provides participants with three years of free access to some 900 current, full-featured software development tools, platform technologies and server products to build software applications.
However, this free program is actually dedicated to startups also, and not just students. These participants also get free monthly Windows Azure benefits, which help them to build, deploy and manage web applications. In Singapore, over 800 startups have joined the program.
The tech giant — which just reported its acquisition of Nokia’s mobile phone unit — also has a program that showcases students who display passion and talent in technology. Microsoft Student Partners (MSP), available in 80 countries, highlights campus leaders who are then given access to latest software, development tools and opportunities to be involved in real-world activities. For example, some of them are involved in facilitating training courses, giving presentations to Microsoft partners and even drive some of these projects.
Another big player in the tech scene, Red Hat, has also been swift in the education space. In 2012, e27 reported that Red Hat has partnered up with Singapore Management University to equip tertiary students with the Linux curriculum and certification. It also organized the Red Hat Challenge, targeted at students from Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
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