France Trains for Tomorrow’s Digital Economy

Translated by Nina Fink, Aurélie Djavadi
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Initiée en 2016, la Grande école du numérique a lancé le 5 avril un nouvel appel à labellisation.
Initiée en 2016, la Grande école du numérique a lancé le 5 avril un nouvel appel à labellisation. // ©  RGA/REA
La Grande école du numérique (GEN), or the Great Digital School, has pioneered short-form job trainings in France through its nationwide network. While the French government recently announced it would increase investment in the future-facing digital economy, it remains to be seen how GEN graduates actually fare on the French job market.

"The main challenge for up-and-coming developers is mastering the right tools at the right time. Rather than complete a five-year program in one go with certain technologies becoming outdated before students enter the workforce, why not alternate intensive, practical trainings and on-the-job experience?" suggests Anna Stépanoff, founder of the GEN-affiliated Wild Code School.

Though traditional degrees have a big influence on careers, Stépanoff is not alone in this belief. For example, France’s Grande école du numérique (GEN), a.k.a. the Great Digital School, uses short-from courses to train dropouts and the unemployed to work in the fields of the future, which are always looking for talent. Since 2016, 400 courses have joined the GEN network and received governmental funding.

Short But Sweet

"GEN has drawn attention to new training methods and has helped short-form courses gain wider acceptance, " observes Stépanoff. France has "real expertise and even a bit of a lead when it comes to innovative teaching methods." GEN trainings last between three and 32 months and cover project management and marketing in addition to programming.

GEN director Samia Ghozlane notes that women make up 20% of students, close to the original goal of 30%. Yet when it comes to chronically unemployed people under 26, the network is still far from its goal of 50% at just 31%. Mathilde Chaboche, head of the GEN-affiliated Passerelle Numérique, worries, "I don’t know if young people recognize the GEN label. However, unemployment advisors have changed their minds. Before they thought digital careers were out of reach but now they know about these other paths and recommend them."

Course Corrections

To help make a name for itself, GEN is compiling a list of careers and skills covered by its trainings. Evaluating them is another matter. For Sophie Viger, director of the GEN training Web@cadémie, “It may be time to conduct audits on the ground to strengthen the label’s credibility.” Currently, GEN schools provide employment figures themselves. An upcoming assessment should reveal which trainings are taking off and which have already signed off.

Read the full article (in French)

Translated by Nina Fink, Aurélie Djavadi | Publié le