Cisco’s Pathways Programme

Cisco’s Social Impact Report 2019/20 is live!  We are delighted to have one of our hugely successful partners, Cisco, showcase their school engagement programmes for early talent.

Download the report to see the case study and read the full story on their Pathways Programme below!

The Challenge

Cisco made a commitment to improve the digital skills of 250,000 people in the UK by the end of the 2020 fiscal year. They want to encourage more interest in IT and STEM careers and tackle the lack of diversity in the technology sector.

For a number of years, Cisco have been providing inspiring opportunities for young people across the country, giving them an insight into the industry and the chance to meet some of our amazing role models. Their one-day ‘Kids in IT’ programme evolved into the ‘Pathway To Your Future’ work experience scheme in 2014, and both made a tangible difference to the lives of the students who took part. Last year saw the launch of ‘Pathways’, the latest evolution of Cisco’s digital skills offer, engaging students before they make GCSE subject choices and take on traditional work experience.

Making a difference

Evolution is key to Cisco’s approach – to make a real difference, they want to listen to young people and educators and grow their programmes accordingly.

Cisco also takes a leading role in ensuring that the future of technology is as diverse as possible, with a focus on finding female and BAME talent and ensuring students who most need experience and exposure to business get access through Cisco.


Cisco has always strived to ensure their work experience meets the evolving needs of the schools taking part, among a changing educational landscape. Having built strong relationships with partner schools over a number of years, Cisco and MyKindaFuture were able to carefully monitor the feedback of teachers who had experienced the scheme.

Pathway To Your Future, it was clear, was providing valuable experience to students aged between 14 and 18. But a theme emerged from the teacher feedback: there was a need to widen the programme to reach students at a younger age, before they came to choose their GCSE subjects. The challenge for Cisco and MyKindaFuture was to retain the approach that had made PTYF a success but evolve the offer to meet the needs of students from Year 7 right through to Year 13.

The Solution

The Pathways programme aims to bring together all the successful elements of Cisco’s work experience from the past few years and streamline them into a single, consistent scheme, covering the full secondary school age range.

The aim is to raise the aspirations of young people from all backgrounds and offer them valuable insights into what a career in technology entails.

Pathways does this by:

  • Introducing students to people outside their current network, who work in technology.
  • Delivering activities, including school workshops and an Insight Day at Cisco’s offices, that help them learn about careers in IT, and develop skills and confidence at the same time.

In addition to delivering the Pathways programme, MyKindaFuture and Cisco have worked together to develop their long term schools partnerships.

Measures of Success

From our pilot programme for Years 7-9, we saw that more diverse young people were being exposed to industry role models and learning about technology roles.

  • 53% of students taking part identified as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME).
  • 42% identified as female.

Cisco’s Chief Executive said…

“We’re always striving towards a brighter digital future for the UK. Today and onward, digital skills will play an increasingly important part in our working and daily lives. That’s why we invest in digital skills, so we can help drive diversity and inclusion to prevent people from being left behind.” – David Meads, Chief Executive, UK & Ireland