Firsthand Experience — Made in China

Regis Delmontagne teaching a Printing class in China.

THERE SURELY is agreement in the United States, as well as in Western Europe and elsewhere, that China is quickly building up its technology and equipment levels to become the dominant supplier of printed products for the Chinese market and a major supplier for the world market.

I just returned from spending several months teaching Business English at the University of Wuhan’s Printing and Packaging School. I taught future leaders of the Chinese printing and packaging industry a course in Business English, which included business terminology, Website development, how to handle inquiries from prospective foreign customers and how to furnish quotes to foreign clients.

I experienced firsthand the dramatic effort under way at the university level to increase the knowledge of students about the various printing processes and how to conduct business over the Internet with Fortune 500 companies, as well as many other mid-sized companies around the world. Total enrollment at the university’s printing school is more than 350 undergraduate students, plus another 100 at the graduate level. (Enrollment at China’s other major universities: Beijing Institute of Graphic Communications has 6,986 students; Shanghai Publishing and Printing College has 4,900 students; and Xian University School of Printing and Packaging Engineering has 1,500 students.)

If determination and stamina can transform these students—many from the rural and farming sections of China—into first-class practitioners, then the world should stand up and take notice. First of all, they are in school for two 20-week semesters; classes are held seven days a week. They live in unheated and uncooled dormitories with no hot water. During the winter months, they attend classes in unheated buildings. During the summer, when temperatures hit 105°, their dorms and classrooms have no A/C.

They are more intense than anyone could imagine. Classroom attendance and homework would be considered “cruel and unreasonable punishment” in the West. As a result, they are completely focused on improving their knowledge of the printing and packaging world. And, the government notices them because many of them will find a career in one of the thousands of state-run and/or privately owned printing factories.

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