How do oil companies compete for the short supply of technical talent? Is there another approach to attract and develop the necessary skills across the globe to fill the expanding void of engineers?

In the mid 1990's the explosive growth of information technology signalled a new challenge for many industries; the impending shortage of talent to develop and deploy technology. And the competition for talent isn't just limited to technology companies; competition for top talent starts early when people are planning their lives and continues throughout their lives, regardless of their initial career intentions. The oil industry competes with high tech, financial services and medicine for the best and brightest.

Cisco recognized this challenge and chose a novel approach, one that addresses sustainable economic development, corporate social responsibility and the pursuit of the best and brightest. In 1997 Cisco founded it's first the Cisco Networking Academy. Over the past 10 years over 2 million people have passed through Cisco Network Academies. Today over 9,500 academies span 168 countries admitting 500 students per day. Over 50 percent of the graduates entered the IT world, 71 percent of those went on for additional technology education and 91 percent say they still use the skills acquired in a Cisco network academy on a daily basis.

In this paper we'll explore how the academies are run across a variety of venues and environments. What is the cost and how are alternative funding mechanisms employed? What is the payback? How are governments and other companies supporting and benefiting from the program? What are the critical success factors? How could this model be applied to enhance the global shortage of technical talent facing the oil industry?

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