Cisco is looking to flood SME-focused partners with talented employees after claiming lower-end customers can be among the quickest adopters of bleeding-edge technology.
The networking titan's vice president of worldwide channels for European markets, Thierry Drilhon, claimed plugging the skills gap in channel partners is priority number one for the coming months.
Across Europe, 350 partners are currently signed up for the vendor's Fit4Talent recruitment and retention scheme. They benefit from a database of almost 8,000 trained individuals and around 20 events were held last year, attended by a total of about 900 potential candidates.
"We really want to connect the dots between the talented people available within the market and the need from our partners," said Drilhon.
The channel chief claimed Cisco's Commercial segment - which addresses businesses with between 100 and 1,500 employees - is its fastest-growing area. A "significant investment" is being made across the continent and 3,000 European resellers have joined at Select partner level in the last two years, he added.
Cisco's UK and Ireland head of small business and distribution, Gordon Mackintosh, claimed numerous programmes have been started for SME VARs. The Partnering for Growth scheme aims to help with everyday business issues, such as HR concerns.
"We have also been running a programme around profitability assessments for partners and around 100 have been through it," he added.
Another of Drilhon's aims for the coming months is to encourage partner-to-partner collaboration. There are no UK-specific programmes currently in place, but Mackintosh said the vendor "will be looking to formulate those over the coming months".
Scott Fletcher, chief executive of Gold partner ANS Group, said: "I think in some of the specialisations that we have built up, like UCS, we would expect that some partners will want to work with us."
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