As China implements its strategy to strengthen its force of highly trained professionals in government and business, more and more experts in various fields will be sent overseas for training and continuing education in the next few years.
The challenge is making sure that these programs are effective and worth the time and money spent on them.
Wei Dawei, a senior official with the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, said his team is strengthening its efforts to regulate the market and solve problems before they get out of hand.
China's plan has caught the eyes of many countries, including the United States, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Singapore. They have designed training programs and seek to attract Chinese enrollment.
At the 2004 Conference on International Exchange of Professionals (CIEP 2004), which ended this week in Nanjing, foreign agencies providing training services already outnumbered the organizations that want to introduce foreign professionals to China.
To regulate this growing market, the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs has established requirements for agencies and their training programs.
"At least one-third of each training course should be spent lecturing trainees. Another third of the time should be devoted to discussion and visits closely related to the profession," said Wei Dawei.
Programs should also be conducted within a single country, with trainees taken to no more than three cities.
However, some agencies and programs have not abided by the rules, Wei noted.
"A number of training service agencies are not focusing on the training itself, but on organizing trips for trainees instead," he said. The administration will conduct more evaluations for trainees and agencies to correct this problem.
Wei also pointed out that there are unauthorized foreign training agencies offering services and individuals who act as intermediaries but who often provide misleading information.
"We will weed out from the market those who are unqualified," he said.
China sends 40,000 professionals to be trained abroad each year, including about 6,000 government officials and more than 20,000 specialists in various fields.
The CIEP 2004 in Nanjing attracted 5,000 people from 28 countries around the world.
(China Daily March 31, 2004)