For those whose technical skills are better than their singing voices, MINX Technology is holding an ‘X-Factor’ style competition to find the most outstanding networking student in the UK.

The competition is being run in collaboration with Cisco Networking Academies, based within schools and Higher Education colleges across the UK. The winner will receive a MINX Technology scholarship for Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert [CCIE] training worth up to £40,000, along with a full-time job. The plan is for it to become an annual event.

Cisco Silver Partner MINX Technology will take up to 10 students each month for three days’ work experience to assess their star quality. Based at the MINX Technology headquarters in Elstree, London, they will gain experience in various aspects of the business such as network design and planning, day-to-day engineering and client liaison. The scheme will start in June and run for six months.

“The X-Factor title is more about the idea that we’re looking for personality as well as technical skills. A lot of people are coming off courses with fairly good technical skills, but they need commercial experience as well,” said John Pepper, managing director of MINX . He assured candidates they had nothing to fear: “It’s not going to be a Simon Cowell approach with water-throwing; the judges will be very nice – honest.”

The five best students over the six-month period will be asked back in November to take part in heats, consisting of written and practical tests as well as interviews. The panel of judges will consist of MINX Technology senior managers and senior delegates from Cisco Academies. A winner will be announced in December, and will be given a full-time job. “There won’t be any restrictions to them being poached – this is us selling the idea of working for us,” said Pepper.

The programme is available to all UK based Cisco Networking Academies. Initial expressions of interest must come from academies – not students – which can e-mail [email protected] for an application form and further information. The deadline for applications is Wednesday 17 May.