In 1978, a study was commissioned and released by Technical Marketing, Inc., a Massachusetts consulting firm, which showed a projected increased demand for people in the high technology industry and an inability of the educational community to meet that demand. Additionally, the Massachusetts High Technology Council made public its demand that the state direct more educational resources to produce skilled engineers and technicians. These concerns prompted newly elected Governor Edward King and Secretary of Economic Affairs George Kariotis to put together a group of industry, education, and government leaders to solve the problem. Their efforts became known as the Bay State Project; their solution was the creation of the Bay State Skills Corporation (BSSC).
BSSC is an economic development tool that builds education and industry partnerships that produce the skilled workers that Massachusetts companies need. BSSC contracts with educational institutions to provide education and training. Many organizations do this across the country, but BSSC differs from them in some significant ways. Specifically, BSSC requires direct participation by one or more companies in each contract. BSSC encourages technology transfer between the educational and industrial sectors and rewards those individual schools and companies that share power, information, and ideas with each other as they produce a more market-ready workforce. BSSC also places an emphasis on funding programs where knowledge intensive learning is necessary, with a strong preference for introducing technological innovation in both mature and emerging industries. Lastly, BSSC provides start-up funding that enables educational institutions to take risks with new ideas.
BSSC is more than merely a funding vehicle, however. BSSC has several departments, ongoing projects, and a proactive staff that all contribute to the multifaceted, highly respected reputation of the corporation. In addition to the core 50/50 matching grant program, BSSC administers the Bay State Centers for Displaced Homemakers, aspects of Massachusetts' Education and Training CHOICES Welfare Training, a Wastewater Treatment Training Program, curriculum consulting, and special summer institutes for faculty-industry development. The corporation additionally gets involved in all aspects of encouraging a competitive workforce for Massachusetts by hosting conferences on specific technological trends, conducting small-sample industrial sector surveys, contacting prospective company partners for their expert opinions, lending technical assistance to current and potential contractors, and offering curriculum advice learned from previously funded programs.
The three most important measures used to evaluate program success are: the number and diversity of company partners and the numbers of schools, skills training programs, and occupational areas that have been funded. In FY86 there were 442 private sector partners; in FY85 the numbers increased to 635 partners. Of the 49 50/50 grants funded in FY83, 32 different skills training areas were introduced. In FY84, 10 additional occupations, 13 new schools, and 77 new contracts were funded; six previous contractors also offered new programs. By FY86 there were 123 new grants, 17 new occupation areas, and 12 new schools were created, with 15 previous contractors offering new programs.