Cisco has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) outlining key areas of cooperation for the development of skilled South Africans to participate in the digital economy.

Francine Katsoudas, executive vice-president and chief people, policy and purpose officer at Cisco, explains: “Inclusion isn’t just something we do – it’s part of who we are. Fulfilling our purpose to ‘Power an Inclusive Future for All’ means reimagining how we come together and how we respect each other’s identities and the roles we play both inside and outside of work. It means tearing down barriers to equity, collaboration, and connection – both in the many places we work and in the wider world.

“Cisco’s Networking Academy, in its 25th year, is making significant progress towards the meaningful inclusion and upliftment of women in the technology industry. In South Africa, 61% of the current intake of 82 219 students are female. This dedication to inclusivity also translates to instructors, where 574 out of a total of 1 127 instructors are female (51%).”

Building on the success of Cisco Networking Academy, Cisco intends to strengthen its collaboration with the DWYPD as an implementation partner to strengthen uptake of the Networking Academy offerings through its partners.

“The partnership with Cisco enables us to tackle the persistent challenge of unemployment, and youth unemployment in particular, in South Africa by bringing education and career connections to people who have historically been underserved and underrepresented in technology fields, including women, racial minorities, persons with disabilities, and rural populations,” says Advocate Mikateko Maluleke, director-general of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities.