Inspiring future tech leaders

‘Skate to where the puck is going, not where it is.’ This well known phrase locally also applies to our economy through the future of our workforce. How might we help students foresee the jobs being created by one of the world’s most diverse and highly technical business communities here in Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

In 2015, Forbes wrote ‘Minnesota is the #1 fastest growing state for tech jobs.” Let’s briefly explore what’s driving this demand, and how the right response can help secure our future workforce.

The strength of Minnesota’s tech community goes largely unnoticed because its innovations and advancements are embedded in the silos of healthcare, agriculture, retail, manufacturing, finance, etc. Unlike communities that tend to get headlines for creating ‘new’ tech, Minnesota advances ‘tech’ through creative application to real-world problems. No doubt about it, this has long been a tech hub and we’re chock full of creative and innovative companies. Add to this Minnesota’s long standing commitment to the ‘digital revolution’ and our pace of change is accelerating.

So how do we engage some of the most well educated kids in the country with some of the most innovative companies in the world during the greatest technological revolution in history?

First order of business is to help students understand the profound implications of our data-driven world. What does it really look like to be a digital business today, and what do we expect it to look like in the next 5-10 years when these students are entering the workforce? What are the implications for the types of careers students currently aspire to?

Today, we depend on STEM messaging to engage students.  However, many would argue we underestimate the profound impact of the digital revolution. Consider that our ability to collect, store, analyse, utilize and visualize data has the potential to transform traditional STEM careers the same way it’s replacing truck drivers!  It’s a message at least an order of magnitude above our current dialogue with students.

Bottom line, the ‘digital economy’ is impacting every sector.  Not anticipating those impacts is a risk for anyone who seeks to enter the market. The best thing for our state, and our kids, it to prepare them to fill the jobs of tomorrow. And Minneapolis-Saint Paul is well positioned to lead.

A number of local tech leaders have joined forces to create an event they describe as an ‘all hands on deck’ moment. They’re calling it “The Great MN Tech 2Gether” The goal is to bring Minnesota industry and education partners under one roof to create an experience for middle and high school students that will answer the questions posed above.

Check out our website for more details and contact information regarding how to get involved. And share your ideas for how to inspire the next generation of global tech leaders right here in Minneapolis-Saint Paul.


Tom Motzel is a Talent Acquisition Consultant to the Data & Information Management Industry and Founder of Tesserae Talent Strategies. Free time is spent pursuing his M.S. in Data Science from University of St. Thomas and working to build awareness around Minnesota’s tech community.