Transversal skills, essential for the today’s engineer

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Companies expect their young engineers to be a bit of a “five-legged sheep”, as explained by Fabrice Bardèche, vice president of the Lonis School Group, who is watching this evolution towards a broadening of skills. The students themselves, he says, are aware of, and even actors in, this phenomenon.

Today, we do not ask a young engineer to be only excellent in his field of specialization. Companies are looking for “transversal skills”, according to the expression, a little obscure perhaps, but which expresses a constant evolution. This is the point of view of Fabrice Bardèche, vice-president of the Lonis Group, which brings together engineering schools in different fields.

What are transversal skills?

Fabrice Bardèche: It’s the transcendence of knowledge to extend to other areas. For the engineer, it is a general culture, ” soft skills ” [behavioral skills, Ed], marketing, communication, SHS [social sciences]. Schools today are developing them all more or less. This is important for the engineer who will often become a manager. He must know what a business is and how to lead a group.

Is this a recent reflection?

Fabrice Bardèche: No … In fact, at the engineering station, we have always looked for the five-legged sheep. He who has perfect technical skills, of course, including in the most recent fields (today it is artificial intelligence, robotics …). But we also expect him to be a good manager, speak English and even a third language, have good general knowledge. In three years of school plus the preparation, it is difficult to concentrate all that.

If this evolution is not new, why do we talk about it more today?

Fabrice Bardèche: It is not completely new, no, but it is true that it takes more and more strength. I think it’s partly related to the development of social networks. There is now a healthy relationship between people within a company and also, in private life, between larger groups. The corollary is an individual expression that asserts itself, with the desire to “not be a pawn”. In companies, there is a growing appreciation of the human dimension.

In concrete terms, do engineering programs evolve?

Fabrice Bardèche: Yes. The requests from the CTI go in this direction. For example, in the growing importance of Internet technologies, but also of the humanities and social sciences. Engineering schools are following this trend. In our Ionis group, we are fortunate to have schools open to various sectors: engineering, biotechnology, commerce, creativity. Our urban campuses bring them together physically and we put in place specialized modules accessible between different schools.

Are the student’s applicants?

Fabrice Bardèche: They are very demanding! Future engineers are now aware that they need to expand their areas of expertise. Everywhere, “we break the silos” … There are also more and more double curricula and we, the schools, must meet this need.

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