Digital education

Digital professions: an NSI day to encourage vocations

Changed on 26/06/2024
With the explosion of their markets, digital and computer sciences (NSI) are struggling to recruit and need to improve their attractiveness. On June 7, some 15 players in the field, including Inria, are organizing a national day focusing on the NSI specialization offered in high schools. The event is aimed in particular at girls, who are in the minority in these professions.
Journées NSI
© Inria / Photo B. Fourrier

Digital and computer sciences in need of qualified profiles

An economic sector that creates hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs, for all levels from bachelor's degree to bachelor's degree, should attract massive flows of applicants.

However, this is not the case today for digital and computer sciences.

"The explosion of uses has gone faster than the development of training,"says Mehdi Houas, president of the association Talents du numérique. Smartphones and social networks are with us from morning to night, and there are billions of connected objects. But companies in the sector lack qualified profiles.

Muriel Brunet, Head of the Education and Digital Program at Inria, agrees: "Young people are not aware of the diversity of professions and the fields of research in the digital sciences. Through the national multi-partner program that we run in conjunction with the French Ministry of Education and Youth, 1 scientist - 1 class, Chiche! we want to encourage meetings between scientists and students in the second year of secondary school, so that they can discover the research and digital professions".

Low feminization, unlike in developing countries

This situation can be explained in part by the low feminization of these professions: less than 20% of the organizations that are members of Talents in Digital are women. "Conversely, in developing countries, hard sciences are perceived as a path to emancipation and attract as many girls as boys," notes Mehdi Houas.


"This is also the case for female researchers," adds Muriel Brunet, Head of the Education and Digital Program at Inria. "Despite a strong commitment in Inria's Objective and Performance Contract and incentives, it will probably be difficult to reach the 30% rate of women project team leaders by 2023.


Muriel Brunet


Head of the Education and Digital Program at Inria

In addition, digital training and professions remain poorly known because of their novelty and rapid evolution: the job of data scientist, one of the most sought-after today, did not exist five years ago!

Boosting the attractiveness of the NSI specialization and its promotion in training programs

This observation led Talents du numérique and 14 other players in the field (including Inria and the Inria Foundation) to take an interest in the NSI specialization, created in 2019 following the reform of the baccalaureate; it is seen as a major step forward in the construction of a pathway to digital technology from high school.

It introduces students to basic concepts: data, algorithms, languages and machines. But it also provides them with the knowledge and know-how to use computers in their daily and professional lives. "Companies are not so much looking for technical experts as profiles capable of making digital technology available to everyone, in all areas of activity," emphasizes Mehdi Houas.

This recent pathway has yet to find its place alongside historical disciplines such as math or science and technology. It is chosen by only 9.6% of first-year students and is offered by only half of high schools," says Mehdi Houas. In addition, less than 20% of the students are girls. We need to boost its attractiveness to expand the potential pool of candidates for our professions.

It's an inescapable trend: digital technology is going to permeate all professions and all sectors.

NSI is an essential foundation that could be strengthened with the teaching of digital humanities," confirms Muriel Brunet. Inria was very early on in its efforts to promote the teaching of computer science and algorithmic thinking from a very early age. Today, the challenge is to transform the pursuit of studies after NSI via access to all higher education courses and a renewal of the offer proposing dual skills combining digital technology with a speciality.

NSI : Key figures

- 115,000 additional jobs for IT engineers will be created by 2030, representing a 26% increase (France Stratégie and Dares study)

- 98% of teachers, 97% of parents and 95% of students consider that digital offers opportunities and jobs (Odoxa - Talents du numérique survey of 2021)

- Created in 2019, the NSI specialty course is offered in about 50% of high schools

- 9.6% of high school students choose NSI in the first year and 4.3% in the last year. Of these, only 18.5% are girls.


"Digital is a space for imagination and creativity"

In addition, two initiatives to promote NSI among high school students, college students, teachers and parents have been designed with the support of three ministries: the NSI national day on June 7 and the NSI trophies.

The NSI Day will offer more than 120 events throughout France on June 7, to raise awareness of the speciality of NSI.


The program includes company visits, discovery workshops, testimonials, classroom presentations and job fairs. Inria is taking part in the day's events, with workshops for middle and high school students organized by the Inria center at the University of Bordeaux, and a videoconference open to all, organized with the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur academic region.

As for the NSI trophies, they invite high school students in this specialization to submit interesting or useful IT projects for society. We received 200 applications," says Mehdi Houas, "which proves that digital technology is a field of imagination and creativity.  And let's not forget gender diversity: a specific trophy will be awarded to a mixed team, or to a project that promotes gender diversity in the digital world.