Billionaire funds free school to fill tech skills gap

Global Business

Billionaire funds free school to fill tech skills gap

Open just three years, this is Paris’ most sought after programming school. But the students learning to code here didn’t win their placement through conventional assessment exams.

Last year, 70,000 people from around the world applied for its 900 openings.

CGTN’s Elena Casa reports.
Follow Elena Casas on Twitter @ElenacMontanez

“We select students essentially via cognitive tests online, checking their brains work in the right way,” École 42 Co-founder and Director Nicolas Sadirac said. “We absolutely don’t care if they passed their high school exams or not, or if they come from a scientific background, or if they’ve never studied sciences before.”

Anyone age 18 to 30 can apply, about 10 percent of students come from abroad. The school gets around 80 online applications for every place.

Students are on an intensive 4-week training program to see if they have what it takes to be the coders of the future. The best third will be selected to go on to the school’s three-year course.

Audrey Roemer is one of those students with no scientific background at all. She was studying for a possible career in the travel industry when she found out about École 42.

“That’s what I love about 42, there are ex-military people, there are gardeners,” Roemer said. “For me, the interdisciplinary is important, because you learn so much more when you meet people from different fields, so I think it’s very complimentary.”

There are plenty of jobs for the school’s graduates, as France is enjoying a tech boom. Paris recently launched the world’s biggest purpose built start-up campus. A third of École 42’s students go on to launch their own companies. A number of tech firms, like online retailer Vente-privee, work with the school to offer students internships and advice for starting their own businesses.

“The advantage of hiring École 42 students is that they’re used to working on projects autonomously, but in a team, so at the end of their studies we have new students who have already developed lots of things by themselves,” Vente-privee CTO Julien Mangeard said.

And France is actively embracing other efforts to promote coding skills. Facebook recently launched a program, in partnership with the French state, to digitally train some 65,000 unemployed people. The government hopes a highly skilled workforce will encourage more tech firms to set up shop here in France.

Liz Eggleston discusses growth in the coding school industry

CGTN’S Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Course Report Co-founder Liz Eggleston about growth in the coding school industry.