Training the smart people we need to run smart cities

It takes smart, highly skilled people to use and manage the technologies and systems that make smart cities operate efficiently and reliably. But as the majority of CIOs will tell you, it can be a challenge to find them — in part because businesses and industries are looking for employees with the same skill set. That's why several tech companies are working with educational institutions at all levels — from primary schools to universities — to provide the academic and hands-on training necessary to ensure we'll have the skilled talent pool capable of working with today's digital technologies. A very recent example of tech companies stepping up is Council Global Lead Partner Cisco's new Networking Academy at the University of Luxembourg. — Doug Peeples


The small European country of Luxembourg has set its sights on becoming a digital leader, and its government realizes it needs an educational system that will provide the IT knowledge and digital literacy to support the goals of its Country Digital Acceleration program.

And that's where Cisco's Networking Academy STEM education platform comes in. It's an intensive IT curriculum designed to teach students the technical and business skills, primarily in networking and security, as well as newer areas such as IoT and data analytics. The first courses are expected to be available in September 2018.

"Luxembourg's workforce is central to accelerating the country's vision to be a digital leader," said Cisco Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins. "As rapid technological advancements open up greater opportunities and create new markets, new roles will emerge across industries. Helping people develop the skills they need to benefit from the digital economy is essential, and Cisco is proud to partner with the University of Luxembourg to open a Cisco Networking Academy to provide the digital skills needed to enable both people and businesses to succeed."

Looking to the future of education in the digital era
In addition to specialized training for its students, the university will incorporate the Academy into its plans to research and test new learning methods and technologies for the future. It has already built a user lab and learning center to develop teaching and learning procedures at all levels, from primary through adult education. Cisco will work closely with the university on its research and testing.

While the Academy is the first of its kind in Luxembourg, Cisco's Academy isn't at all new. In February, the company commemorated the Academy's 20 years in operation at the Missouri state capitol with 120 graduates of its Missouri programs.

And Cisco is not alone in its efforts to contribute to the tech talent pool. For example, Council Global Lead Partner Oracle offers a high school training program; Global lead Partner Microsoft offers its technologies and services to schools, and Associate Partner UL has a STEM program designed to steer middle school students toward in-demand tech jobs .

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.