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IT Giants Chip in on Brain Training
China's promising software industry, coupled with an acute shortage of skilled software workers, has pushed global software heavyweights to become more involved in helping nourish the fledgling software engineers in the country.

IBM Corp, the world's leading software provider, announced last week it aims to train 100,000 individuals in the software industry for the Chinese market in the coming three years.

According to Henry Chow, president and chief executive officer of IBM Greater China Group, the US-based company will pool huge funds to help the Chinese Government and software enterprises establish a sound software talent training mechanism.

"Thanks to the expansion of the Chinese economy in recent years, the country's software industry has chalked up an average annual growth of 28 percent in the past five years, which has given rise to an urgent need for a massive number of software engineers," Chow said at the IBM Forum 2002 held last week in Beijing.

Chow said IBM will invest tens of millions of dollars in training in the Chinese market, stopping short of specifying the figure.

IBM estimates that there will be a shortage of 400,000 skilled programmers employed in China's software enterprises by 2003, while the number demanded by networks services, software exports, multimedia production and e-learning will exceed 1 million.

Chow also announced that IBM will donate educational software products, course materials, technical data and sample codes to 35 software colleges under Chinese universities.

IBM is also planning to launch a project-based internship program this year. Called Extreme Blue, the program aims to help Chinese students develop skills in software project planning, management as well as marketing skills. The best projects created by students will be chosen and launched on the market.

"Besides training 100,000 software elites in China, we are also aiming to offer IBM software training authentication services to 100,000 people and share IBM software developing skills with 1 million people in the coming three years," Chow added.

Late last month, Microsoft Research Asia donated several educational software products and a research development platform worth about 2.6 million yuan (US$313,000) to 35 software colleges.

"The global IT giants' greater involvement in software talent training in China will provide a boon to China and those foreign companies themselves," said Lu Benfu, director of the China Internet Development Centre under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The increasing number of skilled software workers will provide a strong stimulus to the growth of China's software sector. Also, foreign companies can profit in the long term from the training programs which are based on their own platforms. Moreover, their increasing input in training professionals is also a good way to raise their profile in China as such efforts are greatly appreciated by the Chinese Government," Lu explained.

(China Daily April 18, 2002)

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