REPORTAGE. In Nice, the Académie du Métavers bets on the future despite the difficulties of Meta

A Metavers Academy has just been launched in Nice, in partnership with Meta, Facebook’s parent company. While the concept imagined by Mark Zuckerberg is strongly criticized and the company loses a lot, the Metavers Academy claims to be independent. Free training that aims to be inclusive, intended to train in virtual reality or augmented reality professions.

When, in October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was becoming Meta to build its metaverse, who would have thought that Nice was part of the equation? “Meta came to see us to offer us to develop training following the repositioning of Facebook“, recalls Alexandre Chervet, South Director of Simplondigital training company “inclusive“. Since December 5, 2022, a promotion of 15 people started training within the Académie du Métavers, in the Var plain in Nice.

For now, the metaverse as projected by Mark Zuckerberg does not exist, but for Simplon this training is a bet on the future.

The metaverse is a 5 or 10 year vision of things that already exist today but will interconnectexplains Alexandre Chervet. If we don’t do it now, it will happen without us. Thus, Nice is a stronghold of the future in these areas.“In the meantime, it is difficult to see clearly. The simple definition of the term fuels the most heated debates.

The metaverse is a set of virtual worlds“, risks Nicolas, learning at the Metavers Academy. Before calling back: “Afterwards, everyone has their own vision!

In recent years, before Facebook’s change of direction, virtual reality (VR) headsets or augmented reality (AR) glasses have gradually appeared on the market. Over time, events, video games or even virtual worlds have developed with these technologies and are in themselves already metaverse.

The only thing everyone agrees on is that nobody agrees.

Myriam, learner at the Nice Metavers Academy

If the metaverse does not exist today, on the other hand, digital environments already exist. The metaverse is the building; and the digital environments are the building blocks that make it up”, tries to image Alexandre Chervet. But everyone has their own idea of ​​what the digital future may represent. “The only thing everyone agrees on is that nobody agrees“, ironically sums up Myriam, who is part of the first class of Metavers Academy.

Since Mark Zuckerberg’s intervention in 2021, the metaverse has caused a lot of ink to flow. As the CEO of Meta defines it, “the Metavers” is rather a futuristic vision of what the internet would be like, of course under the impetus of Meta. A digital revolution that would take place with the tools developed by the American giant, and the servers it hosts. All this offering the sale of virtual objects and ever more numerous and ever better targeted advertising spaces, in immersion. Very important financial issues on which many brands have already positioned themselves.

The French government is already looking into this future despite its character that is still difficult to define. In October 2022, he published a interministerial report entitled “Exploratory mission on metaverses”. After more than 6 months of work, the authors of the report – a researcher in sociology, a lawyer and an engineer, researcher in computer science – came up with a definition “soft“.”The concept of Metavers contains within it a multitude of possibilities, services, spaces, more or less open […]. The essential characteristics of metaverses are: the existence of virtual, 3D, real-time, immersive, persistent and shared worlds“, they write.

Virtual worlds that can be accessed “with or without head-mounted displays“, and using “or not avatars“.

Beyond this evolutionary definition according to the advancement of technologies, the report also offers initial leads framing this digital revolution. “There is a whole series of financial and legal issues that must be structured without closing the possibilities of development.“, underlines Myriam. In view of the numerous issues concerning cyberbullying, data security and anonymity on the Internet, framing these virtual worlds is a daunting task. Some voices are already denouncing the multiple drifts in the metaverse of Meta.

When it announced its strategy, Meta had already thought about it by announcing the creation of 10,000 jobs in Europe linked to the metaverse. “European policy makers are leading the way in helping to embed European values ​​such as freedom of expression, privacy, transparency and individual rights into the daily workings of the internet. Europe has an important role to play in shaping new internet rules“, specified Nick Clegg and Javier Olivan, responsible for the group. For Meta, it’s a way of being warned, rather than see still heavily sanctioned by the EU for its breaches of data protection on its social networks.

Nobody wants to be in a totally meta-controlled metaverse.

Nicolas, learner at the Académie du Metavers de Nice

If, like Meta, many companies are positioning themselves on this digital revolution, few have invested as much as the parent company of Facebook. A strategy that has for the moment signs of failure.

In 15 months, the company lost $13 billion on its metaverse. The beginnings of this future, Horizon World, released in December 2021, is already strongly criticized. Recently, Meta has announced the loss of 11,000 jobs.

On the side of Simplon, we assure that these episodes have not changed anything. “We do not position ourselves, there is a digital revolution, regardless of the players who contribute to it. We partnered with Meta because they were the first to have had this vision“, says Alexandre Chervet.

The idea of ​​the metaverse is that it is made by and for people“, wants to believe Nicolas, also trained at the Metavers Academy. Even within the latter, the idea of ​​​​the metaverse presented by Mark Zuckerberg, is far from unanimous. “Meta’s mistake is wanting to do it in a vacuum“, points Myriam. “No one wants to be in a metaverse totally controlled by Meta or big corporations like GAFAM who will use the data. A lot of people don’t want to be in this pattern anymore.“, continues Nicolas.

Here, we don’t train Meta employees.

Alexandre Chervet, director of Simplon Sud

But if the training is funded by Meta, which provides access to its educational tools and its Meta Quest, virtual reality headsets, the American company does not have control over the content taught there. “Here, we don’t train Meta employees. We get up in the morning to include everyone in digital jobs“, insists Alexandre Chervet. Simplon also offers other training in digital professions for people with disabilities or in difficulty.

The local authorities did not doubt for a second when Meta came to propose its project. If other Metavers Academies linked to Simplon, should see the light of day soon in Paris and Lyon, for the moment, the training is present only in Marseille and Nice.

The commitment of the Paca region is certainly no stranger to this. This one finances the project to the tune of 350,000 euros. During the inauguration of the Nice site, Renaud Muselier, the President of the Region was present, as was Christian Estrosi, the Mayor of Nice, who declared that day: “for the metropolis, being a pioneer in the development of the Metavers is a priority“.

With 4 months of intensive course followed by 15 months in work-study, learners of the Académie du Métavers will have time to train for future digital professions. “Nice enjoys a thriving digital ecosystem”, justified on November 25 Laurent Solly, Vice-President Southern Europe of Meta. A dozen local companies have already committed to recruiting these work-study trainees. “They are destined to become developers and create immersive environments, mainly in the world of gaming and entertainment for the moment“, specifies Alexandre Chervet.

Thanks to partnerships with the skills operator Atlas and Pôle Emploi, the Académie du Métavers is open to a variety of profiles, particularly those seeking employment or retraining. “It is the only free and inclusive training of its kind for everyone.“, he announces proudly. Within the first promotion, Myriam worked before in accounting and Abby in fashion, for example.I am resident in Malta, but I have returned to France to register with Pôle Emploi to access training“, says Nicolas. The latter already has a master’s degree in computer science with a specialty in development and is already “administrator and treasurer of a blockchain metaverse“.

Although the levels are disparate, all have at least some basics in computer development. But no degree is required. Recruitment is mainly based on motivation. While 15 learners are part of the first promotion for the moment, Metaverse Academy hopes to integrate five more by January 2023.

Instead of crying over the professions that will disappear, why not focus on those of the future?

Abby, learner at the Nice Metavers Academy

If the concept of the metaverse still seems vague and embryonic, local companies are already asking for profiles of developers or technicians in virtual reality or augmented reality, as assured by Alexandre Chevret. And this, despite the association of the name of Meta and its controversies. The director of Simplon Sud is convinced of this: “To go in one direction, someone has to have a vision and qualified people have to be trained. It is up to us to train those who will build this new world.

According to a study by Dell and the Institute for the Futuretaken over by Pôle Emploi, “85% of jobs in 2030“didn’t exist in 2017, as we like to remind Metaverse Academy.”Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s uninterestingsays Abby. Instead of crying over the professions that will disappear, we must focus on those of the future.“Within the Nice Metavers Academy, everyone seems convinced of participating in the creation of a new world.

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REPORTAGE. In Nice, the Académie du Métavers bets on the future despite the difficulties of Meta

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