15. June 2023, Miscellaneous, vocational education and training

EdTech in Paris: Our “journey to the future” in the French capital

Oh, joie de vivre: At the end of April, we swapped the Salzach for the Seine for two exciting days. For the EdTech Future Trip of Aussenwirtschaft Austria, filled to the brim with visits to exciting educational initiatives. We don’t want to withhold from you why we felt inspired in Paris and what experiences we took with us. So, allez!

France as an exciting EdTech destination

What makes France special, besides its famous cuisine and language, is a strong economy. Already in October 2021, President Emanuel Macron presented the investment plan “France 2030”, which weighs 54 billion euros, in order to strengthen ecological change and sectors of excellence. The focus is also on the service sector, with the branches of communication, informatics and information. Consequently, large-scale subsidies move innovations and the start-up scene, which is currently flourishing.

This is particularly evident in the flourishing EdTech scene: around 500 companies and 10,000 employees were active in the sector in 2021 and turnover was around 1.3 billion euros. Meanwhile, France is one of the largest European markets for EdTech after the UK, with investments of 487 million U.S. dollars in 29 deals. Austria ranks a proud third with 301 million U.S. dollars. Also exciting to add: According to our ecosystem survey, the projected growth of the domestic EdTech industry is currently around 13 per cent, with an additional 480 employees. Currently, there are about 3,300 employees in 180 companies in Austria. (Status: 2022)
Incidentally, the French counterpart to EdTech Austria – EdTech France – was founded in 2018 with the same goal: To promote exchanges between companies and educational institutes.

Foto: Privat
@Station F in Paris

The initiatives – our wrap-up:

Right at the beginning of our trip, we found out what France thinks about access to education by diving deeper into the French education system in three places:

CPF – Government Education Platform

Over café au lait, we started the day with French opinion leaders to discuss educational opportunities. Specifically about the CPF education platform – a government project to grant the right to learn, for which an individual budget is allocated annually for all French people. This also provides low-threshold access to teaching, which is already having an impact: Within six years, four times more apprentices have been trained through this initiative and the image of apprenticeship has been changed for the better. And yet: In France, it remains more difficult to find learners for apprenticeships than companies willing to train them.

“Station F” – From railway station to start-up

Over café au lait, we started the day with French opinion leaders to discuss educational opportunities. Specifically about the CPF education platform – a government project to grant the right to learn, for which an individual budget is allocated annually for all French people. This also provides low-threshold access to teaching, which is already having an impact: Within six years, four times more apprentices have been trained through this initiative and the image of apprenticeship has been changed for the better. And yet: In France, it remains more difficult to find learners for apprenticeships than companies willing to train them.

The name suggests it: New life has been breathed into an old railway station here. A modern start-up campus has been created that offers entrepreneurs and start-up initiators everything their hearts desire – from counselling to workshops, stays in the accommodation areas to dealing with the authorities, which they can do directly on site. The offer has already developed into quite a few successful businesses and programmes. “No wonder with the casual vibes and the fascinating architecture of the place, where you feel instantly inspired, surrounded by art, plants and motivated people,” says Julia Pichler, EdTech Austria.

Reskilling/Upskilling Startup – Bootcamp for green career changers

The bootcamp for sustainable jobs. Shorter and crisper than more traditional educational formats, this continuing education initiative focuses on the essentials. The repertoire includes courses that are completed with a state-recognised diploma and are a real future perspective for people with a desire for a meaningful professional reorientation. The needs and motivations of the learners are in the foreground – above all, what impact they want. In addition to modern e-learning and VR tools, there is also classic on-site learning – this enables flexible start times and makes the format so successful.

Das Startup Upskyld stellt sich vor.

The future and AI: C’est la vie

Of course, we also encountered the most moving topic in the industry in Paris on many fronts. For example, we were still discussing a recently published study by the OECD regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and changing job roles. “My understanding from these interesting conversations is that no AI will replace higher cognitive, social-interactive and management skills in the near future,” says Julia. “Also exciting for me were the discussions on the opportunities of AI – for example, how critical thinking and digital literacy in the classroom will become even more important as a result.”

EdTech companies à la France

We then got a petit insight into practice through the three EdTech companies Nolej AI, Upskyld and Skill & You, which gave us a look behind the scenes.

To start with Nolej AI. Based on several generative AI technologies (unfortunately they didn’t want to tell us which ones), they generate learning materials from videos, PDFs or texts within a few minutes. These documents can then be loaded into any common LMS system.

Upskyld, on the other hand, makes auditory learning its theme and has therefore dealt with wasted life time – especially that which we lose in the course of driving. In order to make good use of this time, software consisting of an algorithm was developed that selects learning materials, topics and podcasts according to the user’s individual skills, levels and languages.

Our last stop took us back to the beginning, so to speak, because the training company Skill & You is one of those that offer their further education via the government platform CPF. From 200 courses for a wide range of professions, 100,000 people are currently learning with Skill & You, which continues to rely on practical workshops alongside e-learning.

Conclusion:

As the second largest EdTech market in Europe, contributors to the EdTech scene in France are dealing with similar issues as in this country. With the future of teaching, job changes under AI and which continuing education formats are best suited to succeed as a country in the ever-changing ecological environment of the 21st century. After this trip, we feel more motivated than ever to further strengthen Austria’s EdTech scene and perhaps soon share second place with France… Until then – merci and á bientot!

All photos: (c) private

Eve hat sich nach der Kommunikationsarbeit in der Salzburger Innovationsszene als Texterin in Wien selbstständig gemacht. Der Funke ist über die Distanz aber nicht erloschen: Nach wie vor schreibt sie am liebsten über innovative Unternehmer:innen und ihre spannenden Ideen. Dafür geht ihr im EdTech Bereich sicherlich nicht so schnell der Stoff aus.

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