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Building on its Internet of everything (IoE) strategy, Cisco released new Internet of things (IoT) and cloud-focused career certifications to help IT professionals develop the key skills needed for the IoE. Expanding Learning@Cisco’s portfolio, the new Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Industrial, as well as the Cisco CCNA Cloud and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Cloud certifications are available globally.

Cisco’s focus on IoE covers five key areas—Internet of things, software-defined networking, cloud, security and big data.

“One of the key things that is happening in the industry is the Internet of everything—the connection of people, process, data and things,” said Tejas Vashi, director, product strategy and marketing, Cisco Services. “In order to get there, what we see is a massive need for digitization, and it’s happening in every industry.”

“Every time something new comes into the marketplace, we see a skills gap and that is what Learning@Cisco’s primary purpose is—building the right expertise in the right place at the right time,” Vashi added. “It’s not just for Cisco internally; it’s for our partners as well as our ecosystem of customers and the industry.”

Cisco estimates there is a shortage of 2 million-plus people in the IoT industry. “They need to be trained and re-skilled,” said Sudarshan Krishnamurthi, senior product manager, security and IoT education strategy, Cisco. “Even some of the folks coming out of colleges do not have the right set of skills for these manufacturing jobs and need to be up-skilled as well.”

On the cloud side, Cisco estimates that 7 million jobs need to be filled by the end of 2015 in areas of cloud infrastructure, cloud deployment and cloud services.

Cisco’s new certifications are designed to help fill these skills gaps. The career certifications are available in five levels: entry-level technician, associate, professional, expert and architect. “It provides an individual with the ability to grow in their career,” said Vashi.

The CCNA Industrial (IoT) certification addresses the growing IT skill gaps as operational and informational technologies converge in industrial infrastructure for manufacturing facilities that leverage IoE. The IoT-focused program is a lab-based training and certification offering that is part of the CCNA Industrial Education curriculum. Targeting operation technology (OT) professionals, control engineers and IT network engineers working in manufacturing plants, the program equips individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to build, manage and operate converged industrial manufacturing plant networks.

Cisco spoke with several customers on the value of IoT, particularly as it relates to manufacturing, which is currently a key vertical for the company, and found that 50 percent of them believe that automating inventory and the assembly line will “add huge value in terms of reducing the downtime, said Krishnamurthi. “There will be huge cost savings and productivity gains because of IoT.”

Other benefits of connecting these devices include improvements in quality, safety and security, time to market, competitiveness and customer satisfaction, Krishnamurthi added.

“However, there are skills gaps emerging on the manufacturing plant floor mainly because the talent—the control engineers trying to manage these devices—aren’t skilled enough because they don’t know IT or networking,” said Krishnamurthi. “They need to understand the new technologies coming into their shop floors so they can address any operational, design or implementation issues, and realize the full value of IoT.”

In a cloud-based world, the CCNA Cloud and CCNP Cloud certification program will give IT professionals the skills required to build private and hybrid cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions. The program prepares individuals to deliver entry-level provisioning and support of Cisco Cloud and Intercloud solutions, providing candidates with the skills to explain cloud concepts, as well as design, deploy and maintain Cisco Cloud and Intercloud solutions in complex environments.

CCNA Cloud certification focuses on job roles for cloud engineers, cloud administrators and network engineers to learn key skills for delivering entry-level provisioning and support of Cisco cloud solutions. With a prerequisite of CCNA Cloud, CCNP Cloud certification focuses on job roles for cloud engineers, cloud administrators, network engineers, cloud designers and architects. This certification shows these IT folks how to design, implement, provision and troubleshoot Cisco cloud solutions.

Gina Roos, a Channel Insider contributor, focuses on technology and the channel.