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How Learning Tech Skills Changed This Young Chinese Man’s Life

Growing up in rural China, Chen Liangliang never expected to live anywhere but his small village. Generations of people in his community had lived similar lives, carving out a living in traditional ways. 

Liangliang watched others leave, however, seeking better opportunities in China’s growing cities. He saw this as his path, too. But with no skills or resources, he didn’t foresee a future outside his village.

Liangliang got excited when he learned about the Cisco Networking Academy at a vocational school in Zhengzhou, a nearby city, but thought it would just be another opportunity out of reach. His family, however, had other plans.

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Liangliang’s father recognized how important this was to his son, and went to extraordinary lengths to create an opportunity for him. “He worked extra jobs and even sold his van so I could afford living in the city [while taking classes],” Liangliang said. 

Thankfully, his Networking Academy courses were already covered.

For the past 20 years, global technology leader Cisco has been licensing the Networking Academy IT training free of charge in partnership with vocational schools, colleges, universities, and other organizations worldwide. Networking Academy provides students with opportunities to build the skills they need to pursue a career in technology. The Networking Academy is now offered at more than 10,000 locations s in 180 countries, including China.

Liangliang completed his Networking Academy training and earned a Cisco networking certification in 2007 and has been living and working as a networking professional in Zhengzhou ever since. More than 8 million students have participated in the Networking Academy over the past two decades. Like Liangliang, 70 percent of alumni believe that the training improved their lives and careers.  

“I have a wonderful opportunity to provide a better life for my wife and our children,” Liangliang said.

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On his days off, he makes the trip back home to his village to visit his family.

“The look on their faces [when I see them] makes being away all week worth it,” said Liangliang. “I’ve been able to buy them a car and a house, and that has made them so proud. Especially my mother, and that means the world to me.”

Last year alone, more than 1.3 million people enrolled in Cisco Networking Academy courses in areas such as programming, networking, cybersecurity, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Cisco wants to grow the positive impact Networking Academy makes by aiming to reach 2 million students per year by 2020, so that more students will have stories like Liangliang’s to share.

“I never imagined I would be where I am today,” Liangliang said.