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IBM committed to creating STEM talents in China

By Zheng Yiran | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-12-05 15:22
As a corporate citizen with a strong sense of social responsibility, IBM always sees education as the most important area. [Photo/IC]

International tech giant IBM says it is committed to nurturing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) talents for 21st century in China, as it aims at boosting the development of STEM education in the country.

Currently, in China, IBM offers technology-based solutions to customers in various industries, such as manufacturing, automobile, electronics, retail and consumer goods, and finance.

To this end, the company recognized the importance of cultivating STEM talents, as the development of modern society requires more and more integration of scientific and technological forces. Therefore, it launched an educational program in China aimed at helping the students to bridge the gap between traditional education.

The philanthropic initiative, called "Skills Build", launched with the focus on STEM education in 2018, recruited 200 employee volunteers in IBM to teach lessons in China's primary and secondary schools. It encourages students to learn about STEM careers and understand how engineering and other careers are applied to solve problems. The lessons last from October to December, covering 2,200 students in 17 schools in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen in Guangdong province.

"Through eight systematic courses, and interactive experiments, Skills Build aims to encourage student to learn via exercises and hands on kits to better understand technologies and be ready with the skills for the 21st century," said Lin Jiangang, director of IBM Greater China Group's department of Brand, Communications and Citizenship.

"Cultivating science and technology talents is an urgent need. As a corporate citizen with a strong sense of social responsibility, IBM always sees education as the most important area. Therefore, we launched the program," he said.

The company recruits its employees to teach students classes by using their expertise. All courseware is developed by IBM itself. There are eight courses in total, and every course lasts 45 minutes.

"Currently, STEM education has become a hot topic among primary and secondary schools. Its education idea represents the new concept in the future technology field and talent cultivation field. It highlights interdisciplinary and to resolve problems in real life," said Lin Jiangang.

Statistics from the 2017 White Paper on China STEM Education published by National Institute of Education Sciences showed that in China, there were only 11 scientists and engineers out of 10,000 labor forces. By last October, the talents gap in artificial intelligence surpassed 1 million. Over one third of teachers hold that professional ability and lack of teachers are critical bottleneck restricting STEM education.

Therefore, volunteers from IBM not only teach STEM courses face to face, they also give classes to teachers, so that teachers can continue the STEM education when IBM's project is over.

"The Skills Build project makes full use of IBM's volunteers, offering students the opportunity to experience STEM courses, as well as engineer thoughts. Those activities with sustainable development concept are interesting and attracting, and students are highly involved into these activities," said Zhao Xi, a teacher at the Youth Science & Technology Center of Beijing Xicheng.

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