BlueCross, ETSU create BlueSky Institute to address shortage of technology graduates

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / BlueSky Tennessee Institute Executive Director Brad Leon poses outside of the BlueCross BlueShield complex on Friday, March 5, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is starting the BlueSky Institute, an accelerated two-year bachelor's degree program to train students to work in technology fields. The institute will be in partnership with East Tennessee State University, and graduates will receive a degree from ETSU.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University have partnered to create the BlueSky Institute to address a shortage of technology graduates in the state.

The BlueSky Institute is an accelerated program in which students earn a bachelor's degree from ETSU in two years. The first cohort will be 15 to 20 students taught by two full-time faculty members on site, and the number of on-site faculty members is planned to grow to four by the second year.

Following a work-based model, students in the BlueSky Institute will be mentored one-to-one by a BlueCross employee. Students will also live together and begin classes on the BlueCross campus in Chattanooga in the summer of 2022.

The program comes as a response to the ratio of technology jobs to technology graduates in Tennessee, where there are 4,100 open tech jobs but 1,000 graduates to fill them, said Scott Wilson, corporate communications and community relations vice president at BlueCross.