Cisco Systems to train prisoners in computer skills

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The Independent Online

Cisco Systems, one of the world's largest technology companies, is turning to Britain's prison population to recruit its next generation of IT workers.

The company has set up academies in 11 prisons across the country to train inmates in information and communications technology (ICT) skills. Cisco hopes that once they have served their time at Her Majesty's pleasure, the convicts could be ripe for recruitment.

Duncan Mitchell, Cisco's managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: "There is a skills gap for people with ICT skills - that is why we have set up the Cisco Networking Academy in prisons. This is a fantastic opportunity to give people a fresh chance by providing them with new skills."

Cisco has developed a "digital curriculum" for the inmates and is working with the Government's Offenders Learning and Skills Unit.

The project is at a pilot stage, with trials in 11 prisons, including HMP Ford, Bristol, Chelmsford and Kirkham, as well as young offender institutions such as Feltham.

Mr Mitchell said that Cisco's motivation was partly philanthropic. But the company was also looking to prisons for future recruits because of an "acute shortage" of people with ICT skills, he said.