RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Want to be a Cisco-trained engineer? The field is wide open – in India.

Cisco’s visionary John Chambers foresees global demand for high-speed networking, video conferencing and other net technologies exploding over the next few years. And the networking giant’s chairman/CEO is ramping up training efforts to meet expected need for engineers to install, maintain and run the advanced networking gear.

So where is Cisco targeting much of its recruiting effort?


Just as IBM began dismissing some 700 “freshers,” or new recruits to its Indian workforce out of 7,000 new hires, Cisco disclosed plans to launch a full-subcontinent drive to find and train engineers. According to media reports from India, Cisco plans to train a whopping 360,000 engineers over the next five years.

You read it correctly.

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Granted, these aren’t Cisco employees. But Cisco, which is building a high-tech campus in Bangalore, does plan to triple its headcount in India to 10,000.

“The investments look to be a vote of confidence in the Indian IT sector at a time of mounting uncertainty,” the TimesOnline reported.

The newspaper pointed out that the steadily increasing value of Indian currency against the dollar is cutting into one of India’s workforce advantages – difference in wages. But Cisco is plunging ahead.

For example, Cisco is partnering with a testing firm to make Cisco training widely available across the world’s largest democracy.

“A series of new ventures designed to dramatically boost the number of Indians certified to roll-out Cisco products will include a new fleet of mobile training and testing centres that will patrol India’s rural outreaches,” TimesOnline said.

Cisco and IBM are just two of many high-tech companies rushing to expand into India. Red Hat and some Triangle companies have operations there as well.

However, the IBM fresher story, rising expenses and the continuing unrest about importing tech workers into the U.S. clearly point out that the outsourcing debate is far from over. As some people are speculating already, will Cisco’s newly trained engineers in India want to move elsewhere?

On the other hand, that many engineers ready to deploy Cisco gear in India’s burgeoning economy could mean good news for Cisco and the rest of its worldwide workforce. After all, Cisco stock got hammered Wednesday on forecasts about a slowing tech market.

India and China are where more companies stake much of their economic future. It appears Cisco’s Indian adventure is going to grow much, much bigger – and fast.