The students all asked me, “So what’s the cost to us?” And I said, “Nothing.” Google gave us these 500 certificates. I tell them, “I don’t care if you do the Google certificate or not, but I bet ‘future you’ is going to care if you do this Google certificate or not. So I hope you earn as many as you can, because you want to be a better you.
Mathew Desjardins, Site Director and Senior Lecturer at East Tennessee State University
Graham: We found that in our region, there were only 50 computer science graduates over a three-year period. Our goal is to eventually recruit and enroll 50 BlueSky students per year. So we said, how can we not only fill our tech-talent gap, but do something for the community that hasn’t been done before?
Desjardins: It was serendipity. BCBST wanted to develop an intensive job training program. ETSU has an amazing computing department. We were already using Google’s Cloud Career Readiness Program, and BCBST was already working with Google Cloud on another project. I’m glad that we were able to collaborate in a way that was best for ETSU, best for BlueCross BlueShield, and ultimately best for the students.
Graham: To see all 32 students show up on day one was a beautiful surprise. We had zero losses in enrollment over the summer, and it really feels good to know that the students trust us with such a major decision in their lives. We are definitely celebrating that as a win for the program.
Graham: For some of our students, this was their only route to a bachelor’s degree. Some of them were going to stay home and go to a local community college, due to either cost or wanting to still be near family. BlueSky Institute has really been able to eliminate some of those barriers to a bachelor’s degree. That has been very rewarding for us.The multigenerational impact is also very important. Because we’re recruiting from underserved communities, we know that earning these degrees and walking into careers with these certifications is going to trickle down for generations and benefit these communities moving forward.
Desjardins: Five years from now, I would love for this to be a model that’s being used nationwide. I would love for other businesses to also adopt this model, not just in the education and technology sectors.Graham: Our number one goal is student success. We set our goal high for a 100% graduation rate. That would be really powerful and exciting – and then we want our students to choose BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee as their employer and continue with us long term. Then, like Matt, I would love for BlueSky Institute to reimagine how post-secondary education works, how businesses can partner with universities and others to impact the workforce.Berlent: In the short term, we want Google content to help and motivate students to succeed. In the long term, I truly hope more employers like BCBST, industry partners like Google, and educational partners like ETSU can come together to support students in preparing for in-demand jobs of the future, especially within under-represented student populations who have the least access to learning this content. This is a model we’d like to see replicated many times over.
To request more information or apply to the BlueSky Tennessee Institute, click here. To learn more about Google’s workforce development initiatives, check out Grow with Google,Google Cloud Skills Boost, and Google Cloud for Faculty Programs.
By: Brent Mitchell (Managing Director, U.S. State & Local Government and Education)
Source: Google Cloud Blog