What is the Grande Ecole du Numérique?
A digital talents booster to sustain economic growth
An accreditation of excellence
The Grande École du Numérique (GEN) is a Public Interest Group established in France in 2015. It makes training for digital responsibilities readily available and easy to find by funding and endorsing courses across France. It aims to respond to the growing need for digital specialists by training those who have limited access to employment. According to reports, 1.3 million people in France are not in education, employment or training (NEET),* there are 100,000 dropouts* every year and there will be 200,000 vacant positions in the digital sector in France by 2021-22.**
Through a series of three funding calls, the GEN has targeted organisations (private, public and third sector) interested in developing new digital courses accredited to the GEN Label. The GEN provides seed funding to help develop digital courses specifically designed for key target groups of learners. This seed funding covers development of course content, suitable pedagogies for the target group, recruiting trainees, supporting them to complete the training and finding employment afterwards. The organisation certifies the courses with an accreditation of excellence and provides potential trainees with a catalogue of hundreds of training programmes across the country. All these programmes use approaches which enhance access and inclusion by using innovative pedagogy, partnerships and mentoring. They provide access to tomorrow’s careers in the digital economy, regardless of social, economic and academic background.
There have been 33,000 trainees in the GEN network since 2016 and we have 72% of positive outcomes after the training: permanent or fixed-term employment contracts, ongoing training, etc.
In 2020, these training programmes included:
A government-backed project
The Grande Ecole du Numérique was launched in 2015 by the French government. The GEN public interest group (GIP, Groupement d'Intérêt Public) comprises the Ministry for Higher Education, the Ministry for Labour, the Ministry for Youth Affairs and the Ministry of State for Digital Affairs, key stakeholders in vocational training (the French public employment agency Pôle emploi, skills development agencies, OPCOs) and some private companies (Capgemini, Société Générale and Orange).
We have 3 typologies of funding:
- The contribution from the government and private companies: €1.4 million per year used for the operating budget of the GIP
- Government funding (€15 million of government seed funding in 2015-2017 and €37 million in 2018) used to provide initial financing for new training programmes selected through calls for proposals, which are further subsidised by funding from regional government
- Training for jobseekers is funded by the government agency Pôle Emploi, with additional financial aid for decent living from the Ministry for Education (€5 million per year).
The courses developed with support from GEN (seed funding and accreditation via the GEN label) cover a very broad range of digital skills. Some of these have a direct relevance to manufacturing skills, such as IoT & Robotics, although it can be argued that all of the digital skills are likely to be applicable across most sectors of the economy, including manufacturing.
There are hundreds of certified courses with an average duration of eight months but can last up to three years. These are delivered by a range of organisations including private sector training providers, not-for profit organisations and universities. The courses cover 50 digital professions and GEN groups these into seven families:
- Network, maintenance and telecoms infrastructure
- Cybersecurity and cloud
- Data, AI and IoT
- Interface, graphics and design
- Digital communication, marketing and e-commerce
- Management & Strategy
These courses were developed in response to Calls issued by GEN for new digital skills courses specifically designed for their target group of potential learners. As part of their submission (and subsequent assessment) the organisations responding to the call must detail how many people they intend to train, how they will deliver the training, how target learners will be recruited and how they will be supported into employment. Given that the support to be offered extends beyond the actual delivery of training to helping the learners gain employment, there is an incentive to ensure that there is a real need for the skills being developed.
All training courses offered have a GEN label which means they have been through an accreditation process and this provides value to learners. There are a variety of levels of certification available via a wide range of providers. Some of the GEN labelled courses can result in a Diploma (at Associate, Bachelor’s or Master’s level) recognised by the French State. Some universities (e.g. the School of Engineering at the University of Marseille) offer GEN labelled courses that result in a diploma from the university.
Courses are delivered by a variety of training partners. Half of training courses are exclusively face-to-face, 3% are exclusively online and the remainder have mixed learning including face-to-face and online. All GEN labelled courses are specifically designed to provide learning methodologies that are suitable for the target trainees. On average a GEN labelled course will have 16 participants per cohort.
A MOOC is provided (by the University of Lille) to offer training organisations tools and ideas to help them implement the most appropriate educational approaches.
Changes made in response to COVID-19
All of the GEN labelled courses that started to run before the COVID 19 outbreak are now operating remotely. If the courses had not started then they have been postponed.
All trainers of GEN labelled courses have an online platform so it is relatively straight forward for them to switch delivery method in this situation.
* French Employment Policy Council (Conseil d’orientation pour l’emploi), 2017
** France Stratégie - Directorate for the Promotion of Research, Studies and Statistics (DARES), 2015
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