Pupils in Glasgow aged 14 and over are to be offered training in information and communications technology by one of the major partners in the Scottish Schools Digital Network.
Cisco Systems, which specialises in internet networks, is to roll out its Networking Academy initiative in 11 of the city's schools, some of them in the socially more disadvantaged areas.
From August, the new courses and advanced learning resources of the ICT vocational training programme will be delivered by Cisco and the Govan Initiative on behalf of Glasgow City Council. The programme is intended to improve the prospects of school-leavers and to tackle Scotland's burgeoning ICT skills shortage.
Steven Purcell, the city council's leader, said: "Our partnership with Cisco Systems has already achieved tremendous results, helping the long-term unemployed in the east end to find high-value jobs through dedicated training at their academy in Parkhead. Extending this partnership to our schools will enhance our ability to provide the best vocational training to young people."
Paul Wingate, business development manager for Cisco Systems, said: "With Scotland facing a serious productivity crunch, we need to ensure that young people living in disadvantaged areas are not denied the opportunity to contribute to - and share in - our national economic success."
Extending the highly successful model developed by Cisco and the Govan Initiative at Hill's Trust Academy in south-west Glasgow, the expansion is intended to address directly some of the long-standing education and employability challenges that are endemic in parts of the city.
Evidence from the Scottish Executive indicates the proportion of young people living in these disadvantaged areas who are not in employment, education or training (the NEET group) is around 30 per cent, compared to 22 per cent in Glasgow and 16 per cent across Scotland.
Damien Yeates, chief executive of the Govan Initiative, said: "The work being done in Govan has been a resounding success in terms of helping individuals lift themselves out of the poverty cycle. Since 2002, 92 per cent of Hill's Trust Academy students have achieved a level 23 (SCQF 56, equivalent to Standard grade 1-2) qualification, with two in every three going on to gain employment in IT and related sectors.
"For the price of dropping their least favoured Standard grade subject, students in the 11 new Cisco Networking Academy programmes can gain a recognised vocational certification."
The networking academy programme is a public private partnership between Cisco Systems, governments, education institutions, non-governmental organisations and industry, created to teach technology and telecommunications skills. There are more than 11,000 academies worldwide, with 32,000 instructors and 1.9 million students. Currently, 23,000 students participating in the programme are based in the United Kingdom and Ireland.