St. Clair College announced yesterday that they have been recognized as the number one Cisco Networking Academy partner in North America, boasting 1,680 students enrolled in Cisco’s computer network programs in 2018.

On top of this achievement, the college has also maintained its top ranking for female enrollment in Cisco’s computer network programs.

Patty France, the president of St. Clair College, says this recognition is especially exciting for the college as it has been working hard to be viewed as a top school for STEM-related courses.

“We are equally excited and actually very humbled by the recognition. We have been trying really hard to become a destination institution from a global perspective,” said France. “So our networking programs from my perspective have achieved that milestone of being a destination program for St. Clair College.”

The students at St. Clair College enrolled in the Cisco Networking Academy programs posing with the faculty. Credit: St. Clair College

Cisco’s Networking Academy, which launched in 1998, has a global reach, but specifically in Canada, they have 215 academies featuring its programs across Canada, with a total of 26,885 students enrolled across the country.

The President of Cisco Canada, Rola Dagher, who attended the announcement event, said Cisco was equally as excited to learn of the impact this program has had in not just Windsor, but Canada as a whole.

“I love that this program is feeding the local economy here in Windsor. But it’s also creating jobs across all of Canada,” said Dagher. “And it’s amazing to see a small town like Windsor making such a large impact on the Canadian economy.”

When measuring the program’s success by looking at the jobs that are being created or filled through it, James Marsh, the dean of the Zekelman School of Business & Information Technology at St. Clair College, points to one specific class within the Cisco programs.

Referring to its basic software programming/web applications program, in which 24 of the 26 students in the class have already been offered jobs two months before the course ends, Marsh says these programs are supplying workers who are ready to jump right into the industry, something he says businesses in the area have been clamouring for.

“The industry looks to us for work ready students that can fill the gaps,” said Marsh. “We have a lot of people retiring in our region and we need to fill those. And so they’re looking to St. Clair College, and they want them to have upgraded skills.”

And while the tech industry in the Windsor area has been growing in recent times, it has also been named Canada’s worst city for a gender pay gap in jobs using tech skills, according to the press release for this announcement.

The programs at St. Clair college are looking to change that, and seem to be well on its way to doing so.

For the second year in a row, St. Clair College has been recognized for having the highest female enrollment by percentage in its Cisco Networking Academy courses among all the schools in Canada that offer the courses.

As of February of this year, 27 per cent of the students enrolled in the Cisco courses at St. Clair College were female; compared to the national average of about 19 per cent.

And this is something that France attributes to not only the many initiatives the college puts into place to attract female talent, but also the female leadership the school has in place.

“I think we’ve had lots of strategies here that have been directly trying to increase our gender balance in some of our programs. And we first of all tried to be inspiring and lead by example and demonstrate that we have lots of success for females ourselves,” said France. “For example, our program coordinator is a female, the President is a female. There is no gender stereotypes from our perspective, and you can be anything you want to be.”

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