By Pierre Dubuc and Mathieu Nebra, cofounders of OpenClassrooms

What does it mean to Make Education accessible?

Every year, we revisit our mission statement: Make Education Accessible. Not to change it, but to consider how to best implement it. We crafted this mission to guide us, yet annually, we must reconsider the objectives that will actualize this statement. This marks our fifth mission report, summarizing our endeavors to breathe life into the mission alongside a set of objectives defined by our mission committee.

A new perspective on our objectives

Upon our transition to a mission-driven company in 2018, our Mission Commitee outlined operational objectives aimed at addressing five categories of students who face specific barriers to accessing education: 

→ unemployed individuals

→ individuals with low to no qualifications

→ residents of disadvantaged areas

→ refugees

→ individual with disabilities

Our goals were twofold

→ Quantitatively
to reach and maintain a minimum proportion of 70% of our students belonging to one of these categories.

→ Qualitatively
to launch a communication campaign to deconstruct stereotypes about career changes to attract more atypical profiles to the tech industry.

Both of these goals were achieved. Quantitatively, in 2023, 75% of our students belonged to at least one of these priority categories. Qualitatively, a major communication campaign was deployed on social media with four video portraits of our students on the theme of overcoming mental barriers related to disability, age, education level, and gender stereotypes. The redesign of our admission funnel also allowed us to create a personalized process to recommend training and funding options to candidates.

  • 75%
    of our students belonged to at least one of those underserved groups.

After four years dedicated to making education accessible to these five priority categories, the Mission Committee has observed that the initiatives implemented by OpenClassrooms have effectively contributed to facilitating access to education for these students. This access is now structurally and sustainably facilitated.

With that key learning in mind, the mission committee reconsidered what it means to make education truly accessible. They found that despite overcoming the specific barriers to education, our underserved students still faced obstacles to employment. Consequently, the Committee decided to refresh its approach with a deeper focus on 2 categories and evolving our impact measurement.

1. A new and deeper focus on two categories of the population that are underrepresented in the workforce 

People with Disabilities

In France, people with disabilities In France, people with disabilities have an employment rate of 44%, compared to 74% for the general population. OpenClassrooms can and will contribute to helping more students with disabilities access skills that will enable them to gain stable employment. This category used to be one of the five underserved categories, and we made the decision to elevate it as a main focus.

Our objective is to provide all our students with disabilities access to a mentor trained in disability management and a contact at OpenClassrooms who is also trained in disability. Additionally, we aim to deploy a strategy to improve funding to accommodate the necessary adjustments for students with disabilities.

  • 44%
    people with disabilities employment rate

Women in Tech

Women only account for 26% of employees in tech companies, and that number drops to 16% when considering only technical roles. We believe that OpenClassrooms should play a key role in enabling many more women to access exciting roles in the tech and digital sectors, which are in high demand. 

Our objectives are twofold: to have a minimum of 25% female students in our Tech programs, and 40% of our Tech program instructors to be women. For these two groups, we also aim to deploy wide-reaching communications featuring role models from these categories to work on representations and facilitate identification.

  • 26%
    of employees in tech are Women

2. Evolving our impact assessment: This methodology will focus less on the number of people we reach (how many underserved students do we serve, and how much growth we generated), but rather on the depth of the impact we have on each individual. In other words, our goal will be to understand how OpenClassrooms is able to positively impact the life of every student by making education accessible to them.

We aim to develop a calculation formula that will enable us to quantify, in monetary terms or other means, the changes experienced by a student before and after studying with us. Additionally, we intend to measure the broader economic and financial impact across various stakeholders: employers, state and government services, and the wider community.

As a result of this new approach, this report is work in progress. We’re still reporting against the five underserved categories we have been using in the past, but we have added our two new areas of focus. Additionally, we are experimenting for the first time with a new Impact calculation model that will be updated in 2025 as we learn more in the future.

The rise of apprenticeship

Beyond evolving our focus on underserved categories, we also came to realize that we had an opportunity to make education more accessible by deploying online apprenticeships in France, the US, and the UK. 

Online apprenticeships offer several benefits

For studentsFor companies
100% financed program, debt-freeAccess to new and more diverse sources of talent
A salary from day oneImproved talent retention
A higher salary after graduation (+6% to +9% higher than other types of students)Ability to start at any time during the year (not just in September like traditional apprenticeships)
An 81% chance of landing a job within 6 months after graduation (a higher rate than other types of students)1 to 2 days of training / week
(the apprentice does not disappear for a full week or more)
Learning skills that are immediately relevant for employersInfluence the skills the student will learn to be more relevant

The acknowledged advantages of apprenticeship for both parties, coupled with the chance to connect students with employers on our platform, prompted a change in our priorities. We are now dedicated to making education accessible by effectively pairing apprenticeship candidates with employers.

This is why a considerable amount of effort has been invested in building the OpenClassrooms talent marketplace (for employers) and the job board (for apprenticeship candidates).

This strategy is also applicable to employers who are looking to hire full-time employees but are struggling to find suitable talent. Consequently, they can participate in the training effort through alternative methods, such as the POE (Préparation Opérationnelle à l’Emploi) program in France, which is a 'train then hire' type of initiative. OpenClassrooms is actively exploring these opportunities in parallel.

Our mission committee

Jean-Philippe Courtois

Vice President
Olivier Fleurot

Employers - Capgemini
Anne Lebel

Public sector - Semaphores
Patrice Guezou

Team membres
Pauline Kamoun
Cécile Dubouis

Pauline Bourdeau
Nathan Bellow

Francis Bock
Alexandra Marty

Mathieu Nebra

Pierre-Olivier Barennes