Business / Technology

China's tech fever attracts US online education giant

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-04-19 10:22

China's tech fever attracts US online education giant

Sabastian Thrun, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Udacity, addresses a press conference during the launch of Android Nanodegree in India, in Bangalore on September 21, 2015. [Photo/VCG]

BEIJING - Silicon Valley-based online education provider Udacity announced its entry into China on Monday, hoping to tap into the rising demands for talent among the country's tech companies.

Udacity, which features training courses designed by tech giants like Google and Facebook, launched its Chinese-language website to make all of its 132 courses available to Chinese learners. It has also teamed up with Chinese tech firms, including video streaming provider Youku Tudou, ride-hailing app Didi, e-commerce giant and Sina Corp, which owns Chinese microblog Sina Weibo, to roll out localized vocational projects.

Udacity CEO Sabestian Thrun said the company built its initial success by catering to the "huge thirst for talent in Silicon Valley." Its platform features courses and projects designed by tech firms to teach skills much-needed in the tech circle, from building artificial intelligence to designing Android apps.

The company is eyeing the expanding market for tech startups in China. Despite millions of new college graduates every year in China, putting much pressures on the employment, Thrun said Chinese tech firms are still desperate to find employees that have mastered the latest technologies.

"There are many great universities teaching great things, but there are still huge needs that are unmet today," Thrun said, adding that traditional college education has limited capacity to accept more students and teach the latest technologies.

China's promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship has brought a startup boom, with the number of the country's new enterprises jumping 21.6 percent year on year to 4.4 million in 2015, or about 12,000 new companies opened every day.

"China has a much bigger market and a rapidly growing economy with enormous talents we'd like to reach and educate," Thrun said.

Udacity is the latest US online education provider to enter into China's job training market, following a similar move by Coursera, a leading provider of massive open online courses (MOOC).

Last year, Coursera launched a project to invite Chinese companies to design projects for its students in a bid to develop MOOCs into a job recruitment channel. Coursera CEO Rick Levin said there had been an increasing demand for career-related online courses globally.

Udacity started in 2012 as a MOOC provider, but Thrun said the low completion rate of such courses had prompted them to swift to a more career-based education. He said many companies, eager to recruit tech talent, have happily endorsed their cause by joining in the design of courses and offering internships and positions to top performers.

"Udacity is giving the companies a chance to be in the driver seat of the education to shape education first-hand," Thrun said.

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