Veterans' organization uses Cisco Networking Academy to help clients prepare for IT careers
Part of the Forces Employment Charity, TechVets offers technical training that provides veterans, reservists, and their families IT skills to prepare them for new careers.
Location: London, England
Size: 3500 learners
TechVets strives to support the United Kingdom's veteran community and their families, whether members are currently serving and looking to upskill for the future or leaving the military and looking for their next career.
With a growing online community of more than 3500 learners, TechVets provides access to a range of upskilling opportunities to help learners, including technical training, providing connections with employers, and resume support.
"When leaving the military, it's common to be so ingrained in a linear path of completing a course that will enable you to tick the box to receive a promotion or a course that gives you an extra skill set for your role," explains James Murphy, TechVets CEO. As a result, Murphy says: "The community often lacks an understanding of transferable skills. This, combined with a lack of industry experience, causes military leavers to try to make up for it by getting as many certifications as possible."
TechVets is tackling this challenge head-on by unlocking career paths that those in the forces community often don't consider or believe they can pursue.
In the Cisco Networking Academy (NetAcad) ecosystem, each Cisco Academy is assigned to a dedicated Academy Support Centre (ASC). The ASC's role is to provide guidance in getting the Academy off the ground and act as an ongoing point of support. TechVets' journey as a Cisco Academy began with a virtual meeting with the Open University ASC, a longstanding Cisco Networking Academy partner. The Open University's approach to hybrid learning strongly aligned with TechVets' method of delivering high-quality training programs that would allow the the community to continue busy daily life while learning in the background.
The Open University ASC team met with the TechVets team to provide guidance on which courses would be best suited to the community and practical support in getting the courses set up and managing students. TechVets maintains a close relationship with its Academy Support Centre so it can stay up to date with the latest and greatest features NetAcad offers, as well as staying in the know with relevant industry events.
"For anyone who wants to set up a Networking Academy," says Murphy, "it's a very powerful platform that can be as useful as you want it to be. The more time and effort that you invest in it, the more you're going to reap the rewards."
“… Networking Academy, [is] a very powerful platform that can be as useful as you want it to be. The more time and effort you invest in it, the more you will reap the rewards.”James Murphy, CEO
A few months after launching its first NetAcad courses to members, TechVets decided to introduce cohorts to manage learners in a more effective way. Cohorts allowed TechVets to foster greater peer support within the community by bringing together groups of learners that started a course at the same time, facilitating open discussions. TechVets found that learners felt more supported through the community feel of a cohort, with members encouraging each other to progress through courses. The introduction of cohorts boosted the number of TechVets' members actively engaging in the training with a 25% increase of learners in the first quarter of 2022.
TechVets has used Cisco Networking Academy resources to create pathways that progress learners from beginner, with the Networking Essentials course, to Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or Cisco Certified Network Professional CCNP as advanced-level courses. "The NetAcad course catalog is very self-explanatory; if I was looking for a certain IT course such as programming, I know where to go," says Colin Grimes, TechVet training coordinator. "It's written in a way that is easily understood and easy to grasp, and we see this with the community signing up. Cisco is an instantly recognizable and reputable brand."
The broad training offerings that NetAcad provides have helped TechVets grow its community from 50 to more than 200 new registrations every month. The opportunities created through the TechVets Cisco Academy strongly contributed to 15–20 community members progressing into IT careers each month.
TechVets' use of Cisco Networking Academy's courses has led to many success stories.
One spouse who was unemployed for nine years landed a cybersecurity role that was advertised on the TechVets jobs board. Despite having "no previous technical ability," she raced through TechVets' Security Operations Center Analyst training pathway. She is now on track to earn twice as much per hour as she did in previous jobs.
Another TechVets veteran joined the army in 2006, expecting to serve for life. When circumstances led to a medical discharge, he decided to pursue a career in cybersecurity, combining the core soft skills developed throughout his time in the army with technical skills acquired through TechVets' training offerings.
A third veteran served in the Royal Air Force for 12 years but wasn't sure her skills would pay off in the civilian world. In particular, she feared she wouldn't match her former earning potential when transitioning to a tech career after military service. She earned a Batchelor of Science degree in cybersecurity and applied the skills she had built during her time in the military, such as reliability and teamwork. She credits TechVets with giving her a community of like-minded people.