MHTA — The Minnesota High Tech Association has released the 2016 Annual Report on the SciTechsperience Internship Program.

Estimates in a 2014 study by Georgetown University indicate that by 2020, Minnesota will need to fill nearly 155,000 high-wage, high tech jobs. Workforce development in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields is crucial to helping meet this demand and improving the economic outlook for employers and families across the state.

Meanwhile, Minnesota is faced with a STEM workforce conundrum: Students need experience to get a job, but need a job to get experience, and small companies across the state are struggling to find ways to connect to bright, young talent that can help their businesses grow. This challenge is complicated by Minnesota’s net “brain drain” – the flow of STEM talent leaving the state.

The SciTechsperience Internship Program connects college students in STEM fields with paid internships at small to mid-sized companies across Minnesota. Each participating business receives a dollar-for-dollar match from the Department of Employment and Economic Development to help cover 50 percent of the intern’s wages. The match is capped at $2,500. Interns participate in hands-on learning, solving real-world business challenges — the kind of experience that helps students transition from classroom to career. MHTA facilitates connections between students and employers, with employers maintaining hiring decisions.

Hundreds of small Minnesota businesses have hired more than 600 interns through SciTechsperience since the program launched in 2012. MHTA serves as the steward of the program. As part of our grant funding, MHTA submits an annual report to the Department of Employment and Economic Development summarizing the internship program’s outcomes for the preceding program year. Our 2016 report includes information about, among other areas, student and business applicants, intern placements and return on investment.

Workforce development and retention of talent, which are both objectives of the SciTechsperience Internship Program, play a crucial role in helping develop and grow top talent right here in Minnesota. To help meet demand for the SciTechsperience Internship Program, the Minnesota State Legislature appropriated $2 million in grant funding to fund 450 STEM internships over the 2016-17 biennium.  On average, for every $1.00 of matching grants invested by the State of Minnesota, businesses participating in the SciTechsperience Internship Program paid $2.69 in wages to participating interns — that’s a great return on investment for our state.

Moving forward we hope to continue to build on the success of the SciTechsperience Internship Program by providing more STEM students with meaningful internship experiences to prepare them for today’s competitive workforce.

You can read the full report here.