Students take part in a job fair in Chongqing.
As a traditional manufacturing powerhouse in southwestern China, Chongqing is seeking to transform its economy and preparing to answer the call of the Internet Plus initiative. But, local governments and companies find that the city is severely short of people with the needed internet skills.
"It is estimated that Chongqing needs about 100,000 internet professionals a year," said He Yousheng, deputy director of Chongqing Liangjiang New Area Administrative Committee.
"Especially in some new strategic industries such as big data and cloud computing, the current education system cannot meet the huge demand from the industry."
To cope with local economic development, the new area established the country's first "internet university" in early November in Liangjiang New Area to nurture a talent pool for the industry.
Chongqing Internet Institute, as the first comprehensive education center for internet skills in China, is equipped with 12 buildings designed for teaching, living and official business.
Liangjing New Area, established in 2010, is the third national development and opening-up zone in China－and the first in the inland area－approved by the State Council, after Shanghai Pudong New Area and Tianjin Binhai New Area.
Over 80 percent of Chongqing's internet companies are located in this zone.
The institute has developed an innovative new mode of "training, employment, entrepreneurship and retraining" using online and offline classrooms. It is an integrated platform for government, enterprises and the internet industry to cultivate IT personnel and share educational resources.
Lessons focused on Internet Plus, cloud computing, the internet of things, mobile internet and the digital economy are given by world-leading professors and lecturers.
Last year, China announced the Internet Plus initiative to enable more businesses to take advantage of the internet. It aims to integrate modern manufacturing with mobile internet, cloud computing, big data and the internet of things.
In Liangjiang, emerging industries, such as robotics, general aviation and cloud computing, have become a driving force for the new area's economic development.
Liu Xiaonian, deputy director of Chongqing Cyberspace Affairs Office, is one of the masterminds behind the project.
According to Liu, there are about 1 million graduates from 300 internet-related majors across the country each year, but only 40 percent of them can find a job in the industry. In the next five years, China needs about 15 to 20 million IT professionals, especially in software development, network engineering and graphic design.
He added: "We plan to introduce education leading to a diploma in the near future and this institute will grow into a national academy."
The school will be open to all people who need to polish their internet skills. College students, graduates, enterprise employees and senior managers can sit in the same classroom to enjoy the education resources provided by the university.
The institute has signed cooperation agreements with renowned educational institutes and universities, including the online IT education platform maiziedu, mobile data collection and management app AppCan and the India National Institute of Information Technology.
Leading universities at home and abroad, such as Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University and the National University of Singapore, will also work with this institute.
It plans to have the capability to teach over 100,000 students a year by 2020.
Kamal Dhuper, China head of NIIT, one of the global leaders in skills and human resource development, said that in the internet age, there is a big difference between the traditional way of teaching and how students get information.