Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

LAS VEGAS—Cisco Systems is setting out to help channel partners with what they say is the No. 1 inhibitor to growth—talent recruitment, retention and training.

That’s according to Keith Goodwin, Cisco’s channel chief, who said the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant is in the early stages of building an initiative to help partners “plan for tomorrow’s work force.”

Potential areas of focus include a talent partner portal and providing partners with access to the graduates of Cisco Networking Academy.

Let Your Voice be Heard! Vote on the Most Significant New Product Introductions in the Channel. Click here to fill out our online ballot.

“We get thousands of resumes and job applicants at Cisco,” Goodwin said to a general assembly of the company’s channel partners at the Cisco Partner Summit here April 3-6. “What if we could connect you with those?”

Goodwin cited Cisco’s training classes in its technologies and products through Cisco Network Academy, which has graduated 1.6 million.

“We have not connected you with those graduates,” he said. “There is a huge opportunity to build that talent pool and connect you with that talent pool.”

Other potential areas of focus include leadership courses, career management tools, sharing of sourcing strategies and a recruitment playbook.

Partners welcomed the potential support and weren’t afraid to weigh in on what initiatives would be the most helpful.

“Any resources we are provided on a prescreening hiring structure are welcome,” said Stuart Raburn, president of TekLinks, a Homewood, Ala.-based VAR. “In the industry today, people want to be a Cisco engineer or a Microsoft engineer.”

Another partner cited poaching between partners as a serious issue that needed to be addressed.

“Talent is a big issue,” said Pat Scheckel, senior director of products and solutions at Berbee, a CDW company based in Madison, Wisconsin. “We already have a pretty sophisticated recruiting engine. The difficulty we have is that there is a lot of stealing between partners. For us the important thing is talent attraction through the Cisco Network Academy and bringing more people into the industry.”

Chuck Robbins, vice president of U.S. and Canada channels, is heading up the initiative for Cisco.

“In terms of the loyalty thing, we can help to teach partners about how to develop corporate culture,” said Robbins. “We have a very low turnover at Cisco.”

Robbins said that his focus for the program would initially cover the areas of talent attraction, talent training and retention.

Let your voice be heard! Vote on the most significant new product introductions in the channel. Click here to fill out our online ballot.