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RuTC Celebrates Programme Completion in Partnership with Cisco

Thursday 25 August 2016

On 21st July Richmond upon Thames College (RuTC), Cisco, Living Networks and Job Centre Plus invited attendees to an event marking the completion of their partnership programme titled ‘Pathway to Your Future’. The 12 week pilot programme focused on building confidence, driving talent and creating sustainable skills for 12 18-24 year old NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training). The programme was designed to increase employment opportunities for participants and the event was the perfect opportunity for those involved to showcase its success.

The event was held at Idea London, a Post Accelerator space fostering digital innovation, located in the heart of Tech City. Representatives from partnering bodies attended and spoke of their delight in the success of the programme before the NEETs took center stage to present engaging video footage reflecting their achievements on the programme. One NEET participant, Sarina Ahmed, commented “The program was an amazing opportunity for me to grow. The experience has pushed me to become more career driven and focused on my goals so that I can achieve bigger and better things in life.”

Andy Chew, Head of Innovation at Cisco and recent Board Governor for Richmond upon Thames College, also commented “Pathway to Your Future has been a huge success. We were very impressed with the level of engagement displayed by the participating NEETs and the amount of skills they gained with 12 weeks. The power of collaboration between ‘Pathway to Your Future’ partners was evident throughout all presentations at the event and we look forward to maintaining our commitment to equipping young people with the skills they require to drive innovation forward.”


Below you can read some of the participant case studies:

Sia Najumi

Never in my life would I have thought a company like Cisco would open its doors and help better the lives of people like myself. My life before completing this programme was stagnant and foggy; I had no interest in going to university and thus had no idea of where I was heading and what I was capable of. Coming from a challenging background and non-supportive family my prospects did not look bright. The three-month Cisco Pathway to Your Future programme directed by Jane Lewis has been the most enlightening and impactful period of my existence, without exaggeration. On my journey, I created a promo video and short documentary about Women in Technology with three of my colleagues. From the film task, I not only learnt film skills but was able to build my confidence, communication skills and team management.

I met and was supported by hardworking, respectful and caring Cisco workers, and was deeply grateful for their time and commitment to us and the programme. The exposure to Cisco and its work environment taught me a lot about the corporate world. It also left me hungry for a career in the Tech Industry because of its exciting and evolving nature, as well as an advocate for Women in Technology. I feel as though even if I was to go to university I would not have gained as much as I have from this programme. I have never been more confident, courageous and curious in my life and it has left me mentally healthier and happier all thanks to the bravery and belief of Cisco in people like myself. Therefore, I believe it is the duty of all the big technology companies to take the risk and invest in programs similar to this in order to diversify the workforce and to make a social change!

Annmarie Smith

It's hard to pin point just one thing I learnt and loved during my time on the programme as there is just so much I'd end up writing an essay. The most positive thing that stands out in my mind though, is that the programme has truly helped me become a more motivated and driven person and has given me that confidence to go for jobs I want. The programme really wouldn't have been what it was if it wasn't for the people.

The fabulous Jane Lewis was outstanding the entire time through the tears and the laughter she never gave up on us and still hasn't, I will always be grateful for that. All the help and guidance we got from our amazing mentors, always giving their free time up just to help us a little more. Thank you. Our incredible group on the programme who I had such an amazing time with. I truly made some great friends.

Fiona Lalo

The Pathway to My Future training programme made a huge difference to me, it brought numerous multi-faceted benefits. Not only did it enable me to achieve a place on apprenticeship programme with Cisco but also served as real life preparation for it. The key benefits include the technical learning we undertook and the support we had with it from various contributors- it was presented in a way which inspired confidence. Also, being introduced to Cisco as a company and its business operation was very enlightening for me and I felt very welcomed with employees at Cisco being so generous with their time.

In addition, it was important for me to work as part of a wider team again with the other students on the programme, as I had been out of a large workplace or education setting for a while. It was the perfect arena in which to refresh and develop my previously acquired skills as well as learning new talents such as leading my team of 4 in creating the internal short video for Cisco. I am immensely grateful to have had the opportunity- one that I often longed for in times of searching for a path in my career.

Sarina Ahmed

The 3 months at Cisco on the pathway to your future program was an amazing opportunity for me to grow and build myself. I was told by the job center about this program and had no idea what cisco do at all. After speaking to my parents I was told that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I went for the introduction day and automatically knew that IT was for me the culture the atmosphere was perfect. From 12 strangers to becoming very good friends who could laugh so hard and cry even harder in the presence of one another made amazing. The journey was a rollercoaster ups and downs but we all had amazing and honest mentors, friends and even stranger there to help us out regardless willing to be faith and effort into 12 unemployed people.

Going through the assessment day was one of the toughest days of my life the intensity of working so hard for 4 weeks given to us and then trying to get through the day without passing out. After the assessment day we all found out the results and honestly never took any in my life to heart as much but unfortunately did not get through but no within good time I know and believe that that experience has only push me to be more career driven and to focus on myself, my aim, my goals to prove to myself I can and will achieve my bigger and better. The journey was an experience to shape me into the person I believe I can be and to see how everyone around me grew into butterflies made the experience even more worthwhile.

Sara Corda

The three-month programme was a challenging, fun and enriching experience. I learnt so much about myself as well as the people around me and the corporate world of business. The program gave me the opportunity to meet and learn from senior employees within Cisco, who imparted their invaluable advice to my colleagues and I. It was an honor to get to work with everyone whom I had encountered and I am forever grateful to Jane as well as Cisco for their support and guidance. This opportunity gave me the help, as well as the confidence I needed to tackle various challenges and better myself. This program is a rare gem and I am glad I was a part of it.

Sabreen Ahluwalia

Having always been interested in technology, when the opportunity to involve myself with the biggest networking company in the world came around, I knew I had to jump in and grab it with both hands. I thought you couldn’t get closer to the root of IT and networking than being at Cisco Systems and having met so many talented individuals on the way, it was definitely worth it. Jane Lewis first approached me and gave me some information about the course over the phone, at first I was unsure however, I made the decision to gain some experience with Cisco Systems as I knew it would open a lot of doors for me in the future.

What stood out to me on the course was the chance to express our talents and ideas through digital arts and film, having studied photography at GCSE and Double Award Art and Design at College, the thought of being able to convey our concepts through film really excited me. My group of 4 worked incredibly hard to produce a short film about what it’s like to be on the ‘Pathway to your Future’ programme. Without Eduardo, our film would have been tragic, he took us through how to use all the equipment and how to edit. He helped us so much and we have all learnt a great deal about what goes into making a short film and I feel that the experience was priceless. On the journey we managed to meet so many intelligent, passionate individuals who love what they do, even having the chance to interview Phil Smith, CEO UK and Ireland Chairman.

Whilst challenging our skills and going out of my comfort zone by doing presentations, having lunch with established Cisco employees and getting involved with the BBQ, we also got a chance to work on our soft skills such as interviewing, CV’s and the way we come across. Tina Rycroft from The Plus Team Training helped us all out so much by reinventing our CV’s and polishing us up to be as prepared as possible. Being at Cisco everyday really pushed me into the deep end as I have never thought of myself to have good communication skills or even keep a fluid conversation going, however, after my time working with all the others on the course and meeting such incredible people overall, I have learnt that people do actually want to help. This feeling of being surrounded by support and kindness made the whole experience very enriching and I wouldn’t change any of my experiences along the way, I believe they have shaped me to become a more confident individual with more developed skills and organisational effectiveness.

Daniel Portway

Programmes like this are crucial in the current working environment as the skills and insight into the businesses where they are run are invaluable. Personally it allowed me to understand how the company functioned and gave us a major advantage when confronted with any challenges that arose. I couldn’t believe how kind and generous with their time everyone was, every opportunity was made possible through their hard work and passion to nurture young talent; it allowed me to seize the chance to make something of myself and better my prospects.

I have learnt a considerable amount throughout the duration of the course, my public speaking is now at a mature and confident level which has led to me having more faith in myself and I have learnt how to micromanage my time better and hit deadlines as a result. One of the highlights was working with a team to produce a video documenting our time on the programme. Looking through how much we have learnt and changed was simultaneously rewarding and humbling, as it really was a testament to their ability and dedication that made it possible. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the course, and would encourage other businesses irrelevant of size to adapt and incorporate similar schemes into their business model. Every person deserves a chance to prove themselves; this programme ensures they have that opportunity.

Samuel Krotter-Ogbonna

Jane Lewis captured my attention at a job fair with an appealing banner titled ‘Cisco’. I approached her and was motivated with the information she gave me about Cisco. Through her encouraging feedback, I decided to come to an intro meeting. The meeting was very inspirational and as a result, I was able to join a 12-week training programme which gave me a vast amount of life benefiting skills. These skills included learning about networking, coding, hardware, software, presentations and film making. More importantly, it gave me an insight of how individual values and skills contributed in a team make such a great company successful.

One of the things that particularly stood out to me was the support we received. Without it, I doubt I would have succeeded on the assessment day and made it through to the apprenticeship. This was all thanks to Jane, who showed such great commitment and enthusiasm, and the great employees at Cisco who helped me develop my skills knowledge and understanding of the company.

Through this experience, I was also able to understand the important values of working in a team and had the opportunity to meet amazing people who always gave me a new reason to be motivated. And, if anyone fell behind, Jane would be the first to stretch out her helping hand and guidance. I would highly recommend similar programmes in the future through which a larger range of diversity and talent may be discovered and incorporated into top IT companies like Cisco. It was truly an enriching experience.

Alexander Le Hunte

The Pathway to Your Future Program was an amazing experience for me. I had left university due to ill health and wanted to find an IT training program. The pre apprenticeship course with Cisco gave me technical knowledge in digital skills and further CCNA training. It also taught me how to work as part of a team, which I enjoyed immensely.

However, the most important aspect of the course for me was the support from the staff at Cisco. I was assigned a personal mentor who went through my work and gave constructive criticism and gave me confidence to progress even when I struggled. Their help, together with the constant support from Jane Lewis, has enabled me to apply for apprenticeships that would have been out of my reach before the course. I hope to one-day to work for Cisco.


Book your place at one of the RuTC Open Events for 16-18s starting college in September 2017.

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