Cisco adds to network training lineup with Cisco U. launch

New educational unit lets network pros follow goal-based learning paths to earn Cisco certifications or build specific skill sets to prepare for new roles.

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Cisco is expanding the way current and future network pros acquire job-changing skills and prepare to earn certifications with a new educational unit called Cisco U.

Cisco U. is a digital learning center that will offer a variety of online and in-person learning tools and classes, including quick-start skills assessments, tailored learning paths for Cisco certifications, and personalized AI-based skills recommendations.

“We spoke to our community in terms of the challenges that they're facing and [asked] how can we help them advance their careers and how can we help them do their job more effectively," said Par Merat, vice president of Cisco Learning & Certifications. Two challenges that the community highlighted are keeping up with the pace of technology and knowing the different pieces that are included in any given solution, she said. “So what we have done with Cisco U. is provide the solution paths in a way that gives them training, education and skills in what topics they need, when they need it.”

Specific to Cisco U. will be tools such as:

  • Goal-based learning paths to guide learners toward certifications, help them earn badges, and allow them to track their progress; role-based paths to build specific skill sets, provide faster completion times, and reduce repetitive learning.
  • Targeted learning packages to put workers on learning paths to specific technologies such as security, network automation and hybrid cloud content with contributions from Cisco partners such as HashiCorp and Skillsoft.
  • Project-based learning that offers topic-specific training, ensuring everyone starts a project with the same foundational knowledge set.

“We are looking to offer all of the skills, information and access to lab environments that are needed for evolving job needs,” Merat said. 

One career topic that's eliciting a lot of interest is hybrid cloud, Merat said. Hybrid cloud raises a number of challenges, such as the differences between developing for the cloud, on-premises or in multi-cloud operations, Merat said. Cisco U. will offer all the education and training needed for network and IT professionals to learn and work in that environment, Merat said. 

Cisco U. is part of the vendor’s larger umbrella of education and career development offerings, which include its Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), and Cisco DevNet certification programs.

Among Cisco's certification tracks, DevNet is the newest, introduced in 2020 to emphasize network programing, automation, and application-development skills. In its first year, nearly 8,000 participants earned some 10,500 DevNet certifications, including DevNet Associate, DevNet Professional and DevNet Specialist. And according to Cisco, there’s been more than 50% growth in the number of DevNet certifications awarded in the past year. 

In May, Cisco began offering a new expert-level DevNet certification: Cisco Certified DevNet Expert. Exam topics for DevNet Expert include software development, deployment, and design; infrastructure as code; containers, network programmability and automation; and security.

Merat said there will be different pricing levels to enroll in Cisco U. “There's not an expectation that [Cisco U.] is free, because we are offering access to labs and actual infrastructure that people can access while learning,” Merat said. People will be able to continue to use existing Cisco learning credits as well, Merat said.

Early access to Cisco U. is available now here.

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