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Digital infrastructure skills – delivered!

Digital infrastructure skills – delivered!


24 Apr, 2020

Offering hands-on experience and the sought-after certifications and qualifications needed to enter the network cable infrastructure and data centre sectors (the digital infrastructure industry) – with opportunities to study remotely – CNet has educated thousands of Service leavers. Here, just a few of them tell Quest their stories …

CNet Training is the largest education provider in the world, dedicated to the digital infrastructure industry, which includes the data centre and network infrastructure sectors. With a long-standing commitment to supporting the Armed Forces during their service and throughout their resettlement, as well as employing many ex-Forces personnel, it is recognised throughout the world as global industry leader. It’s the only dedicated education provider to award both internationally recognised qualifications and professional certifications, starting at level 3 and culminating in level 7 master’s programmes. 

We talked to four members of CNet staff, who enjoyed military service before taking their valuable experience into the commercial sector and becoming successful in their chosen careers.


Certifications: CNCI, CNIDP, CNIT
Service: Army, Royal Corps of Signals
Trade: Telecommunications Mechanic
Service dates: March 1979 to March 2002
Final rank: Staff Sergeant
Current role: Technical Development Manager at CNet Training
Responsibilities: Paul ensures that the technical content of all programmes throughout the Global Digital Infrastructure Education Framework remain current and up to date.

In March 2000, I was invited by my unit resettlement officer to what was to become my first resettlement interview. I hadn’t given much thought to resettlement; I knew it had to come, but it wasn’t the highest thing on my agenda at that time. To be honest, the interview wasn’t overly inspiring, it simply set out a roadmap that gave the impression that I didn’t really need to do much at the outset and the detailed stuff would all happen at the back end of the two-year cycle.

One of the main issues I had was the financial support for resettlement, my grant after 22 years being £534, at a time when industry technical training was costing about that much for a two-day seminar or a low-level five-day course. At the same time, I had undergone around 18 months of training and had more than 20 years’ experience, but no significant badges to show. 

Resettlement then required that your grant be used for a training course with an exam at the end. The grant offered me no great advantage technically, but I invested it wisely and undertook a week’s motorbike training, took the test and obtained my licence.

My final resettlement meeting was with a local area resettlement officer in what was to become my new hometown of Lincoln. It took about 15–20 minutes, during which he ascertained that I was a homeowner, checked I was applying for jobs and read my CV, which he informed me was ‘too military’ and that I should civilianise it immediately to increase my chances of being selected for interview. I followed this advice only to be asked by a CV reviewer later in life, ‘How come you can describe 23 years of your life in one short paragraph, with scant detail of all of the valuable skills gained and personal attributes associated with promotions gained?’

My transition to ‘civ-div’ as it was colloquially referred to was reasonably painless as I had spent some time in a training and development role, which was to stand me in good stead, and I undertook an 18-month contract with the Child Support Agency as an IT trainer. While it was massively rewarding, at the back of my mind was a constant nagging feeling that I was wasting everything that 23 years’ service had given me. 

Paul’s advice to Service leavers

  • You have access to learning credits after four years of service – use them and use them wisely. Your service will train you for the now, use your credits to train for the future.
  • Plan well ahead for life after the parade square, and plan for contingencies.
  • When it comes to CVs there is no one-size-fits-all. My advice: look at the requirements for the job role and target your attributes and experience towards them.

‘Paul has utilised and benefited from the valuable skills and experience he gained in the military and is now a vital part of the CNet training team. His experience, discipline and organisational skills make him desirable to organisations in the commercial world.’

Andrew Stevens, CEO, CNet Training


Service: Royal Air Force
Trade: Aerial Erector
Current role: Instructor at CNet Training
Responsibilities: Kev delivers network infrastructure and data centre design programmes.

In 1996, I was caught up in a Ministry of Defence redundancy programme and had less than six months to organise my resettlement. I did not attend any training programmes but was lucky enough to get a very good job offer shortly after receiving my redundancy notice. This, I believe, was due mainly to a network of contacts that I’d built up in the previous years, both within and outside the MoD.

During my last three years of service, I was fortunate to be offered trade-related training leading to nationally recognised qualifications in cable installation and testing, and NEBOSH for occupational safety and health. Looking back, these qualifications – along with my network of contacts – put me in much stronger position to help with the transition.

Six months preparing for a complete change of life is a very short time. You never know what is around the corner and, before I knew it, I was a civvy, in a new job, living in a new town. 

Kev’s advice to Service leavers

  • Start to prepare for your resettlement at the earliest opportunity. Don’t leave things until the last minute.
  • Do your research. Invest time in finding out as much about your desired profession as possible, including future trends. Even if you move into a similar trade in civilian life, the work ethics, job roles and methods are likely to differ significantly from what you have become used to in the Services.
  • Remember, 22 years of military service may, in terms of experience, still put you on the bottom rung of the ladder in a civilian job.
  • Take the fullest advantage of any training credits to get accredited qualifications before discharge.
  • Try to build up a network of contacts within industry and military agencies that align with your future employment wishes. I was once told that it is not necessarily what you know, but who you know that gets you the job. In my case, it was true. Today social media can be very useful.
  • Adjust your CV for each job application to match the requirements of that position.

Kev delivers a wide range of technical education programmes for CNet, ranging from the fibre-optic and copper cable installation programme (CNet’s main resettlement programme), to wireless networks and data centre design. He is also an online tutor for learners undertaking distance learning programmes and also speaks fluent French, so regularly delivers to CNet’s French customers.


Service: Royal Artillery
Trade: Air Defence
Service dates: 1991 to 1999
Current role: Instructor at CNet Training
Responsibilities: Tony delivers the Certified Network Cable Installer (CNCI®) course, and will progress to deliver level 4 Certified Network Infrastructure Technician (CNIT®) and the high-level Certified Network Infrastructure Design Professional (CNIDP®).

Following a parachute injury, I was medically discharged. I had no plan. I had spent my entire time in the military attending courses that were only based on my role in the Forces. These were just for military use – not a single course I attended could be transferred to civvy street or indeed become transferable. Not much call for firing missiles in Essex. 

My resettlement journey unfortunately was not a great experience. I struggled to know and understand what I was supposed to be doing. Luckily, I did my resettlement with CNet Training (CableNet at the time), and this gave me some direction, but getting that first step into the industry was hard. Once you are in, though, that’s when the character traits and confidence that the Forces build in to you kick in. I managed to stand out among my peers, courtesy of basics such as being prompt (5 minutes before a parade), being well presented, and having a positive and can-do attitude.

I worked my way up from being a basic network cable infrastructure installer to a supervisor, and then I was given the opportunity to become a site manager. As a site manager I began self-learning about construction and a broader spectrum of M&E (mechanical and electrical) installations, and eventually became a project manager, delivering some of the largest projects across London – something I am very proud of.

As a project manager, life can be very stressful in what is a fast-paced and hectic environment, but overcoming the challenges and problems that occur all too often in construction can be very rewarding.

Now I am an instructor with CNet Training, I can pass on my learning and experiences, from both military and civilian roles, to others. That is something I find incredibly rewarding – and hopefully others do too.

Tony’s advice to Service leavers

  • You’re about to learn a new language, and many people will not understand you when you say things like ‘mag to grid’ when you don’t need something!
  • Relax! It can take many months, maybe years, to transition into civvy street, especially if you joined at a young age.
  • Think about a long-term plan. Financial advice can be invaluable, especially if you are planning to set up your own company or to work as a self-employed contractor.
  • Don’t let the downs get to you. There will be plenty of ups as well.
  • During your resettlement period, put in maximum effort. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out of this experience, so be proactive.
  • Stay in touch with your military family. Social media can be an excellent tool for maintaining your support network. Never be afraid to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness.
  • Network, network, network. Build your network. It’s very true when people say it isn’t so much what you know but who you know.
  • Stay positive – you CAN do this! 

Tony delivers CNet’s fibre-optic and copper cable installation programme (CNet’s main resettlement programme) and extends this to the more in-depth integrated infrastructure technician programme. 


Certifications: CITP, CNIDP, CDCDP
Service: Army, Royal Corps of Signals
Trade: Installation Technician
Service dates: 1997–2019
Current role: Technical Developer
Responsibilities: Clint focuses on developing and maintaining CNet’s network infrastructure programmes. 

For any regular readers of QUEST, I went into detail about my journey in a previous issue, so I won’t rehash the same information here. I have found it interesting chatting with the rest of the guys about how resettlement has changed over the years. I can, hand on heart, say that the information and support available to Service leavers is the best it has ever been. 

Clint’s advice to Service leavers

  • Improve yourself. Start now. Use your learning credits to keep up to date with the industries you are interested in.
  • Your CV will look better if you have done courses, gained qualifications year on year, giving you a chance to gain experience rather than doing nothing for 21 years then squeezing in 10 courses/qualifications in the last year.
  • Always remember that the skills you learn while serving ultimately lead to your second career.
  • Network, network, network! There is a massive network of people out there who are willing to help you. You just have to reach out.
  • If you join at 18 and do a full 22-year career, you’ve got another 27 years to go to retirement. Start thinking about what you may enjoy doing early and prepare for it, or that could be a painfully long time.
  • The more effort you put into resettling, the more you will get out of it.

Clint works alongside CNet’s Technical Development Manager, developing and maintaining CNet’s network cable infrastructure technical education programmes. He ensures that the technical content is accurate, relevant and reflects the current technological advances within the sector, and is engaging for CNet learners. 

Ready to start?

Deciding how to spend your resettlement is a big decision and CNet recognises this. It has a resettlement team who are able to help you every step of the way to ensure you make the right decision.

The Certified Network Cable Installer (CNCI®) programme is the best place to start. However, CNet has an entire framework of programmes to progress to, or higher-level programmes if you have more experience.

The CNCI® certification has been adapted especially for Service leavers. The resettlement programme combines the standard ten-day CNCI® programme (copper and fibre) with a further ten-day work placement with one of the major installation companies, with the potential for employment. Installers are in high demand and the additional work placement can be seen as an extended interview, to use the newly learned skills on site, and gain the valuable on-the-job experience and industry contacts that can turn into a job offer.

The CNCI® programme is shaping the future of the network infrastructure industry as the first official industry standard certification for those working within the network cabling sector. It’s ideal for Service leavers wishing to demonstrate the highest levels of knowledge, skills, expertise and competency in network cabling infrastructure, and is endorsed by the sector’s major organisations. 

For more on CNet, click here and, to find out about CNet’s resettlement programme, here


CNet confirms all remote attendance programmes going ahead as planned

With CNet having already delivered remote attendance programmes for the past three years, it is well prepared to keep students learning throughout the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The following advice is being issued to all CNet customers: ‘CNet can confirm that all remote attendance programmes are going ahead as planned. If customers are registered to attend classroom-based programmes, we are still able to deliver the same learning experience via remote attendance.’

To find out more, click here

About CNet

CNet Training – the global leader in technical education for the digital infrastructure industry, comprising the data centre and network infrastructure sectors – has been delivering industry education since 1996. It is the only industry dedicated education provider in the world to offer both internationally recognised qualifications and official certifications.

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