The field of computing was still young in 1965 when SUPINFO was founded as the first French private higher-education school dedicated to information technology (IT).
International University Uses Microsoft Certifications to Drive Employability and Job Opportunities
Known today as SUPINFO International University, SUPINFO has stayed at the forefront of IT education as it has grown into an international university network that encompasses dozens of campuses and counts more than 5,000 alumni. SUPINFO sustains its success by continuing to invest in innovative education and training resources, including the Microsoft® IT Academy program.
In France and throughout Europe, as in most of the world, businesses are constantly on the lookout for qualified IT professionals. Industry certification is one of the most reliable and trusted ways that employers can determine a job candidate’s competence, but many traditional schools don’t offer the specialized training that leads to such credentials.
SUPINFO International University fills that gap by providing a state-of-the-art technical education aligned with the leading players in the worldwide technology industry. With its origins in France, SUPINFO has seen the need for a certification-based technical education close to home. Arnaud Berthier, Microsoft® Lab Director at SUPINFO International University, says most French schools aren’t equipped to prepare students for certification, putting France a step behind certification programs in other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
SUPINFO has built a network of higher-education schools, including 27 in France, and is expanding rapidly worldwide. In the past five years alone, SUPINFO has added more than 20 new campuses around the world, bringing the total to 33 for the 2008-2009 academic year. All SUPINFO schools offer specialized training in the latest information and communications technologies, with emphasis on professional certifications that are recognized worldwide.
“More and more, companies need certified employees,” Berthier says. “We want to provide our students with courses that prepare them for certification for all the major partners in information technology.”
Berthier says students press for technical courses that will prepare them for what a future employer will expect them to do at work. That includes becoming proficient across the range of Microsoft software applications and services that they’ll encounter in the workplace.
“We need to prepare our students to use not only productivity applications like Microsoft Office Word and Office Excel® but also—because we are an IT school—more technical products like Windows Server® 2008 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007,” Berthier says.Solution
As part of its commitment to innovative teaching methods, SUPINFO partnered with Microsoft to launch the Microsoft IT Academy program in its schools in 2008. This broad participation across the SUPINFO campuses capped a five-year collaboration that has focused on incorporating Microsoft technologies in a SUPINFO education. Currently, Microsoft IT Academy resources are being used in all SUPINFO schools except four campuses in China. “The Microsoft IT Academy program has very good tools to prepare our students for certification, which is very important to prepare them for future jobs,” Berthier says. “We also want to improve e-learning at SUPINFO, and IT Academy is a good solution for that because the courses are very complete.”
As of the 2008-2009 school year, SUPINFO is embedding a spectrum of Microsoft IT Academy courses and other resources into its curriculum, with the goal of providing students with the most up-to-date training and certification involving current Microsoft technologies such as the Windows Vista® and Windows Server 2008 operating systems, and the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5.
Many of the courses align with Microsoft certifications that are highly regarded by employers seeking qualified IT professionals, including Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, Microsoft Certified IT Professional, and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer.
In all, SUPINFO processes more than 1,650 IT certification tests a week, making it one of the largest certification institutions across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. About 30 percent of these tests are for Microsoft certifications. Berthier says SUPINFO students will reach an impressive milestone in 2009: 10,000 Microsoft certifications achieved in SUPINFO’s 40-year history. The number reflects 6,500 students who have earned one or more Microsoft certifications.
SUPINFO currently has 17 Microsoft Certification Testing Centers in its network and hopes to add more in the coming year. To administer the Microsoft certifications, SUPINFO works with Prometric Services, a leading provider of professional licensing and IT certification exams. "The Microsoft IT Academy program has very good tools to prepare our students for certification, which is very important to prepare them for future jobs."- Arnaud Berthier, Microsoft Lab Director, SUPINFO International University.
As Microsoft IT Academy program resources are introduced across the SUPINFO system, Berthier says thousands of students will benefit.
“The most important benefit of Microsoft IT Academy is the great number of courses which are available, and which allow us to launch new courses very easily,” Berthier says. “I think nobody else could give us the materials that are up-to-date with all the functionality of IT Academy—like videos, labs, and teaching materials in many languages.”
Thanks to the training they receive and the certifications they achieve, SUPINFO students typically find employment within a month of graduating. SUPINFO boasts a 100 percent job placement rate, with students earning an average starting salary of more than €36,000 (approximately U.S.$46,000) upon graduation.
In the future, SUPINFO also plans to take advantage of the IT Academy program’s Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) resources to certify all of its trainers. Currently, about 20 SUPINFO schools have trainers on site, and they travel to schools where no local trainers are available to offer courses in Microsoft technologies.
Once all of its trainers are MCT-certified, SUPINFO plans to take advantage of the Microsoft Official Courseware, a set of curriculum resources designed to cover the topics that employers consider mission-critical.