IBM announced yesterday that it has embarked on a major collaboration with China’s educations system to focus on addressing the burgeoning Big Data & Analytics (BD&A) skills opportunity in the country.

The initiative, named IBM U-100, will see the tech giant donate a range of BD&A software worth $100 million and “provide expertise to support 100 universities in China to create the next generation of data scientists at three levels”: 1) set up BD&A Technology Centers in 100 universities, 2) launch undergraduate and, 3) graduate programs in 30 universities and create a Center of Excellence at five universities.

By mid-2105, when the programme is expected to be rolled out to all 100 universities, the aim is to see 40,000 students per year gain expertise in BD&A. The company said that the courses will be delivered by professors, IBM researchers, engineers and IBM Global Services consultant.

“IBM is privileged to extend its collaboration with the Ministry of Education and universities in China,” said D.C. Chien, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), IBM Greater China Group. “Together we will be able to accelerate the nurturing of skills in Big Data and Analytics and help prepare future business leaders to apply BD&A technologies to tackle complex societal issues, from health care to transportation and public services.”

Although IBM’S sales in China have slumped since last year – which, according to Reuters, has been caused by the backlash against the revelations that United States has been spying on foreign subjects and governments – CCID Consulting forecast that the big data technology and services market in china will grow to $8.7 Billion by 2016.

The recent announcement by IBM is an attempt to narrow the gap between the expected growth of big data in the country and the lack of skills needed to manage this.

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