Cisco has created its first apprenticeship programme, delivered in partnership with QA Apprenticeships. The programme aims to "develop a qualified, motivated workforce of Cisco practitioners around the UK", said Cisco.

Cisco added: "The move will give new apprentices the skills to manage and optimise Cisco network systems, handing IT employers a new source of talent to deliver commercial projects and expand their business."

The programme will run at both advanced and higher levels, with the first Cisco apprenticeship programmes commencing this autumn in the south east of England, with applications taken throughout this summer.

QA Apprenticeships, which will provide the training for the new programme, and Cisco recently celebrated winning the Apprenticeship Programme of the Year award from the Learning & Performance Institute for a second year running.

The award was won for creating and growing a bespoke apprenticeship programme for Cisco itself, which has brought over 20 apprentices into the networking and telecoms kit provider to date.

Ian Foddering, chief technology officer at Cisco UK and Ireland, said: "We have been aware for some time about the increasing demand from our partners and customers for apprentices with a strong Cisco knowledge. We are naturally delighted to be able to launch this programme, delivered by QA Apprenticeships, that will develop talent as we have experienced."

The new programme will offer CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) and CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) qualifications to apprenticeships who take part. These qualifications can also be achieved from other training providers.

Ben Pike, director of QA Apprenticeships, said: "We have worked closely with Cisco to develop their in-house apprenticeship scheme. That they have chosen us as delivery partners for their accredited industry programme cements that partnership."