“Like the impression of having taken revenge on the past”, the social ascent of technicians who have become engineers


On the LinkedIn professional network, Kevin Lapoule, 33, hastened to update his profile. Since November 2022, he is no longer an agri-food maintenance technician but a preventive maintenance and reliability coordinator within the Nutriset Group. The reason for this promotion? Ten years after entering this company specializing in the fight against malnutrition, with a BTS in his pocket, he obtained his general engineering diploma in October through continuing education. “Like the impression of having taken revenge on the past”, he rejoices. After his bac + 2, he had made the choice “to stop studying to quickly enter the world of work, even if it means limiting (his) prospects for professional development afterwards”.

He finally, belatedly, chose to raise the “challenge” to win the sesame thanks to continuing education, with the support of his company, which fully financed his course at the CESI engineering school. This type of professional acceleration concerns some 1,000 people each year in France, according to figures from the Commission des Titres d’Ingénieur (CTI). “They were four or five times more thirty years ago”, comments Jean-Louis Allard, vice-president of the CTI and director of the CESI engineering school. This establishment was created in 1958 by companies to allow technicians to access the status of engineer, in post-war France where the industrial and building sectors needed it, faced with the difficulties of the engineering schools. engineers to provide enough frames.

But, at CESI as elsewhere, the path of continuing education followed by Kevin has now become a minority: around a hundred engineers graduate each year, out of a total of 1,500. The reasons for this drop? Extending the duration of studies, “which today pushes many young people to continue towards engineering training after a baccalaureate + 2”, explains Fabrice Maerten, admissions manager at CESI. But also “the explosion of learning since the 1990s in engineering schools”to which companies turn more spontaneously to finance the training of engineers they need, and this, from the initial training, where they preferred, in the past, to accompany their best technicians towards the status of engineer, in a logic of retaining skills and retaining employees.

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Today, while some 40,000 students obtain an engineering diploma each year in initial training, the continuing training of “old school” students, although representing only 2% of graduates, still constitutes “an unparalleled lever for social and professional promotion”, according to Jean-Louis Allard. But, whether they follow this training (1,200 hours in all) in evening classes, alternating periods at school and in business, through online courses or intensive internships, the course of those who want to go beyond their glass ceiling through continuing education is not a long calm river.

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