The creation and the deployment of a soft skills curriculum to improve the employability and the career sustainability of our trainees.

Using the full potential of workforce shortage in the digital labour market to provide free-tuition digital training to unemployed people.

Photo of Marianne Tiers
0 1

Written by


  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Frédéric Bardeau

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative’s representative gender

  • Man

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • France

Where are you making a difference?

France (in 92 cities), and in 19 other countries such as India, Spain, Switzerland...

Website or social media url(s)

Facebook, ID: Twitter, ID @simplonco: Youtube, ID Linkedin, ID

When was your organisation founded?

February 2013

Focus areas

  • Helping people adapt to technologies of the future
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce
  • Creating digital tools

Project Stage

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $250k - $500k

Organisation Type

  • Social and solidarity enterprise: agreement of social utility provided by the French government.

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

Frédéric Bardeau, 39 years old, co-founded in February 2013. Inspired by American bootcamps (accelerated training and new types of incubators), they came up with the idea of mixing that together adding a social dimension: targeting disadvantaged audiences and providing free-tuition trainings. At a moment when workforce shortage in the digital labour market was already anticipated, the idea was to exploit this potential as a leverage for inclusion, insertion and employment, to enhance innovation and social diversity. Simplon Corp has been created a bit later, complementing in preventing unemployment among employees who have difficulty maintaining their employability.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

The digital sector continuously creates lots of unprovided jobs. In parallel, the rate of unemployment, the % of people with low diploma, and the number of people willing to be upskilled/reskilled through technical digital trainings, are all very high. As a consequence, lots of technical jobs of the digital sector experience shortage and lots of people are unemployed.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Simplon firmly believes that digital transformation can enable those who struggle to access training and/or the job market, to become tomorrow’s talents. We offer free training in digital professions in high demand (with a constant strategic watch of job market evolutions), seeking to include job-seekers under-represented in the digital world. Simplon is convinced that the necessary condition for sustainable career path is the complementarity of soft and hard skills: developing the ability to constantly update and adapt our personal knowledge. Given their social background, soft skills are even more crucial for our audiences, more confronted with professional breakdowns. Active pedagogy is already at the heart of Simplon's DNA and develops our trainees’ soft skills (concrete projects, peer-to-peer transmission, workshops on job-search techniques…) but this expertise has not been formalized. To further support our trainees, all parties involved (trainees, recruiting partner companies, pedagogical team) have highlighted the need for creating a curriculum focussed on soft skills and for integrating it consistently within our digital skills curriculum.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Learning by doing, free trainings, and inclusivity through our specific way to source our target audience and to identify new talents make the originality of Simplon. Given our expertise and in a holistic approach, the project is to explicitly include soft skills consistently within our technical skills curriculum. Our pedagogical team works closely connected to recruiting partner companies and will support our trainers in the implementation of this soft skill project: this grouping of actors of different natures is also what makes Simplon unique. The project aims at being a part of SimplonLine (our innovative platform for active pedagogy) in order to empower more and more digital training centers and to spread the model worldwide.

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

Our active pedagogy focusses on concrete projects in autonomy and in group, peer-to-peer transmission, collaboration between learners and with our entire network of collaborators, job search technique workshops, etc. so our trainees learn how to learn throughout life and develop their curiosity in order to to self-train and to adapt in a constantly changing professional environment. Now, we aim at making explicit the recognition of the soft skills needed by employers, formalizing and evaluating them, we aim at deploying soft skills within our curriculum on SimplonLine for our trainees to be able to show their soft skills mastery (open badges). To further develop these skills and to appropriate real work environment and company codes, learning sequences will be dedicated to it through individual and collective coaching tailor-made sessions and animating networks of external experts.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

Through field surveys, their in-depth experience and the existing state of the art, our pedagogical teams have already identified 3 types of soft skills that will be integrated and organised in our curriculum, and will enable us to evaluate their acquisition depending on the level of autonomy and responsibility acquired: generic skills (common to the different professions), reflexive skills (consisting of different techniques), and specific skills (correlated to certain practices and professional contexts). Progress will be evaluated through the increase in our rate of positive income.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

What makes our approach innovative and distinctive is the integration of soft skills repository within our technical skills repository, in a holistic approach. Our expertise and our collaboration with different types of actors (public, private, associative...) allows us to define the most appropriate framework of action taking into account all the needs of the ecosystem, from the learner to the employer. The long term anchoring and the integration to our SimplonLine platform also allows us to have a worldwide deployment and a very high impact.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

The numbers of training centers and trainees in France and abroad has continuously increased since 2013. We have now opened 111 training centers and more than 4,407 trainees have been trained just within the last year! The quality of our training is measured following carefully our trainees during and well after the training and considering that a positive outcome is either when a trainee continues to study or when he or she finds a job straight after the training (72%). Simplon contributes also to less unemployment (less social support for the State) and to talents’ recruitment, bringing diversity and a different range of technical and soft skills in companies. Our soft skills project will be first experimented through pilot trainings. Then, it will be evaluated and adjusted before being deployed in all our courses. In the long run, it aims at impacting our 5,000 trainees per year.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term? provisional co-funding + two of our main philanthropic partners are convinced by our soft skills project and willing to contribute to it. After the first pilot, those partners plan to renew their funding to refine the model and finalize its integration within our SimplonLine platform. We also have applied for other funding opportunities. However, we are still looking for 120,000€ that would really have a leverage effect. In the long run, we expect to get funding from the training partners that will use the apps. This will enable us to continuously adapt our curriculum through a strategic watch on soft skills evolution needs that we be done by our pedagogical team in collaboration with our partner companies.

10. Team

Senior management team : the president and co-founder, and the CEO, both trustee & board member. A pedagogical engineer is full-time dedicated to this project and the rest of the team is employed full-time but partly involved with this project: a project manager, our international development manager, our training center network manager, the product owner of SimplonLine and the head of instructional design and marketing. Evolution plan: one more pedagogical engineer and project manager.

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Socioeconomic class

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

Exemplifying the republican meritocracy, Frederic Bardeau has been impregnated with the idea of acting against social inequalities and social reproduction. His personal background and social milieu - working class - led him to want to contribute to the opening of education access to those who are excluded from it. On the other side, he was convinced by the potential of digital as a leverage of empowerment for diversity and inclusion. From the meeting of these two interests, Simplon was born.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others


Join the conversation: