Frédéric Bardeau, president of Simplon, “We will create training courses bac +5”

The president and co-founder of Simplon was voted the IT personality of 2022 by the readers of Le Monde Informatique. Fredric Bardeau talks about this difference and describes the ambitions of the comprehensive code school which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

Le Monde Informatique: What are your impressions after being nominated as the IT personality of 2022 by the readers of Le Monde Informatique?

Frederic Bardeau : I am very happy, as well as the whole team. This is a dedication to Simplon, whose objective is to train in IT people who are far from employment. This difference shows that the school has a model to play on diversity in technology. In addition, it sends a strong signal to companies that are still reluctant to seek this diversity.

As a reminder, what is the origin of Simplon?

The idea started in 2013 wanting to be inspired by bootcamps in the United States that offered short courses in computer programming. Several initiatives have appeared in France, including ours, but also the Vagon or 42 school. Today we have 131 schools in 28 countries and we have trained 22 thousand people. Emphasis is placed on inclusiveness, job seekers, people with disabilities, refugees, etc. Mixing is also important with 40% of women in schools.

The year 2023 will mark the 10th anniversary of Simplon. What is the school guide?

We want to continue digging into the abyss by improving the offering in DevOps, cyber security, XR (Extended Reality) or the cloud. Today, of the 22,000 people trained, half are in development and the other in infrastructure (mainly network administration). Furthermore, we will continue to develop internationally, particularly in Latin America and Asia. In the first, there is a strong demand in some countries that are in the maritime zone of the United States. In Asia, we already had a presence in South Korea through our partnership with Microsoft. We will be opening in Cambodia and possibly the Philippines.

In terms of training, what changes are expected this year?

In 2023, we will introduce bac +5 level training. This is a request both from the ESNs we work with, but also from the students. The training courses currently offered allow access to degrees at bac+3 and +4 level, for example in AI schools. Therefore, we have started the process with the French Competence to validate two titles about data engineer and developer in virtual/augmented reality.

You work a lot with companies, what are the trends you notice in terms of IT?

Companies’ IT strategies are evolving towards a re-interesting of skills with the creation of the digital factory or the shift to edge computing. Therefore, there is a strong demand among ESNs and CIOs to recruit talent and turn to us. Another important phenomenon is the demand for retraining within major accounts such as La Poste, SNCF or Natixis. The idea is to retain company 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 the most difficulty placing our students is in start-ups and unicorns. Perhaps with the difference of LMI we will have a better acquaintance with these actors.

In trends, there is the issue of CSR around digital. Do you integrate this orientation into training?

There are several axes, such as around the accessibility of the Internet, with the Opquast certification, which defines good practices for development. In the Green IT part, there were not many respondents from companies until now. But this is changing in eco-design topics with, for example, initiatives in Toulouse on this topic. This implies having additional skills other than that of a developer.

As for developers, does the arrival of AI-based coding assistants pose a threat to the profession?

This is the umpteenth time we’ve been told the end of developers. But coding is only part of the job. I am not sure that an AI is able to discuss with the customer to know their needs. However, we shouldn’t rule out technology and are testing Copilot from GitHub on some of the rule repositories. It brings more clarity and fewer mistakes.

Are Simplon student profiles changing?

The base of students remains the people far from employment, those who have had an accident in their 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 affected the employment rate with 60% of trainees finding work within 6 months. Today, this rate has increased to 70%.

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