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Nonprofit School 42 Brings Tech Talent to Employers, Startups

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A nonprofit school without professors or tuition is cultivating students to work in the local talent pool and start their own companies, its co-founder said in an interview this month in Taipei.

Nicolas Sadirac, co-founder of Paris-based Ecole 42, spoke to Business Next about his unique drive to recruit talent, during his staying for the Common Wealth Economic Forum.

Go-ahead from a key entrepreneur

The 20-year information security and computer network specialist started a private school in 1999 called the European Institute of Information Technology. A French Foundation approached Sadirac asking him to create a short-term program specifically for the poor and school dropouts so those people to find their ways.

“There was a girl through this program who ended up working in Xavier Niel’s company, Free, and she was a seller in a pet shop in the past,” Sadirac said.So,Xavier Niel, a well-known French entrepreneur, called Sadirac about starting a program to help people in need.

After the call, the two decided to establish an organization to form a talent pool help those in need find the works and do something after they graduate. That’s how École 42 (French for “School 42”) was born in Paris.

Caption:Caption: Nicolas Sadirac, Co-founder of School 42.
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Nonprofit school: École 42

École 42 operates now as a tuition-free, nonprofit computer programming school. Applicants ages 18 to 30 can apply through an entrance test.
The school employs no professors.

After passing a 4-week intensive programming boot camp called Piscine (French for “swimming pool”), students find ways to get information on their own check in with other students. About 5,000 students are enrolled now.

École 42 also partners with Hautes Etudes Commerciales, a business school in Paris, to teach classes. The partnership is the only source of classroom education.

École 42 tries to bring together talents from different backgrounds and stoke diversity. About 20% have computer science academic backgrounds, while others are from fields such as literature, cooking and philosophy.

“I think it’s pretty cool to have people from different areas be together, then to inspire more possibilities to make everything happen,” Sadirac said.

Now 30% of the school’s students are establishing startups and all graduates are able to find jobs. Their average annual salary is 50,000 euros.

Coding is crucial

Computer coding is core to the curriculum, yet it’s not officially taught, the co-founder said. In 10 to 20 years, Sadirac said, a person might not work without a grasp of coding.

“Coding is a basic language of this digital world,” he said. “At École 42, we don’t teach coding since we assume coding is a basic element to link people together in this era.” All students passed a 4-week coding test to qualify for admission.

“Coding can be very fun, and many people are scared of it just simply because they don’t know how it looks exactly,” he said.

Sadirac once invited 50 journalists to join a weeklong coding program.The 20 who finished it never assumed they could get that far, he said.

École 42 works now with schools in Ukraine, Romania, and South Africa. An official campus in Fremont, a city near the Silicon Valley of California, was established in 2016.

During his 4-day-stay in Taipei, Sadirac met people with interest in starting a campus or otherwise applying the school’s model locally.

“It’s very possible to see an École 42 branch in Taipei,” he said.

Feliciana Hsu
English journalist and PR for Global Affairs

Feliciana gained her MSc of Media Power and Public Affairs from Royal Holloway, University of London.

After graduating from London, she started her career of being journalist at Business Next Media and Meet Startup @TW Website, and specializes in interviewing about innovation and technology.

Within her career, she has interviewed various experts in their field, including Mr.Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia; Fleur Pellerin, former French Minister of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Sir Christopher Pissarides, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economic in 2010.