The president and co-founder of Simplon was voted IT personality of the year 2022 by the readers of Le Monde Informatique. Frdric Bardeau talks about this distinction and outlines the ambitions of the school of inclusive code which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
Le Monde Informatique: What are your impressions following your nomination as IT personality of the year 2022 by the readers of Le Monde Informatique?
Frederic Bardeau : I am very happy, as well as the whole team. This is a consecration for Simplon whose objective is to train in IT people who are far from employment. This distinction shows that the school has a role model to play on diversity in tech. In addition, it sends a strong signal to companies that are still hesitant to call on this diversity.
As a reminder, what is the origin of Simplon?
The idea started in 2013 by wanting to be inspired by bootcamps in the United States which offered short courses in computer programming. Several initiatives have emerged in France, including ours, but also the Wagon or the 42 school. Today, we have 131 schools in 28 countries and we have trained 22,000 people. Emphasis is placed on inclusiveness, job seekers, people with disabilities, refugees, etc. Mixity is also important with 40% of women in schools.
The year 2023 will be marked by the 10th anniversary of Simplon. What is the school’s roadmap?
We want to continue to dig the furrow by improving the offer on DevOps, cybersecurity, XR (Extended Reality) or the cloud. Today, of the 22,000 people trained, half are on development and the other on the infrastructure part (network administration in particular). Furthermore, we will continue to develop internationally, particularly in Latin America and Asia. On the first, there is strong demand in certain countries which are in the offshore zone of the United States. In Asia, we already had a presence in South Korea through our partnership with Microsoft. We are going to open in Cambodia and maybe in the Philippines.
In terms of training, what are the changes to expect this year?
In 2023, we will deploy bac +5 level training. This is a request both from ESNs with whom we work, but also from learners. The training courses currently provided allow access to diplomas at bac+3 and +4 level, for example in schools on AI. We have therefore initiated the process with France Competence to validate two titles around the data engineer and developer in virtual/augmented reality.
You work a lot with companies, what are the trends observed in terms of IT?
Companies’ IT strategies are evolving towards a re-internalization of skills with the creation of the digital factory or the switch to edge computing. There is therefore a strong demand between ESNs and CIOs to recruit talent and turn to us. Another important phenomenon is the demand for reskilling within major accounts such as La Poste, SNCF or Natixis. The idea is to keep the company’s employees and train them in IT professions in several areas: Java development, data analyst, IA, data product owner. On the other hand, where we have more difficulty placing our learners is in start-ups and unicorns. Perhaps with the distinction of LMI we will have better recognition with these actors.
In the trends, there is the question of CSR around digital. Do you integrate this orientation into the training?
There are several axes, such as around the accessibility of the web, with the Opquast certification, which sets good practices for development. On the Green IT part, there were not many respondents from companies until now. But this is changing on eco-design subjects with, for example, initiatives in Toulouse on this subject. This implies having additional skills in addition to that of developer.
Regarding developers, does the arrival of AI-based code assistants pose a threat to this profession?
This is the umpteenth time that we are told the end of the developers. But coding is only part of the job. I’m not sure that an AI is able to discuss with the customer to know his needs. However, we must not rule out the technology and we are testing Copilot from GitHub on some of the rule repositories. It brings more clarity and fewer errors.
Are the profiles of Simplon students changing?
The base of learners remains people far from employment, those who have an accident in life, the unemployed, refugees. But we have more and more applications from people with fewer problems and more soft skills. This is a good thing because it brings additional diversity. And this should increase with the arrival of diplomas in bac +5.
What is the student employment rate?
The Covid period had an impact on the employment rate where 60% of trainees found a job within 6 months. Today, this rate has risen to 70%.
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Frédéric Bardeau, president of Simplon, “We are going to create bac +5 training courses” – Le Monde Informatique
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