MnTech Sounds the Alarm on Tech Talent Development in Minnesota

By: Joel Crandall, Vice President of Talent, Minnesota Technology Association

Minnesota’s tech ecosystem has provided the world with a multitude of technological innovations and new ideas. This same ecosystem has provided hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans with high paying jobs in a sector with consistently low unemployment. Despite this, Minnesota’s tech ecosystem is at risk due to a pressing lack of homegrown skilled technologists and costly lack of technologist diversity.

The Challenge

If you read this and feel like you need more information about the challenges we face as a state, check out the State of Tech Talent report my coworker Katie McClelland wrote. For many individuals I have talked to, the more pressing question is how can we act now to equitably rebuild Minnesota as a tech talent development leader?

Collective Approach

On November 16th, MnTech convened more than 180 leaders at Best Buy headquarters to address this question. Attendees representing more than 90 organizations had the opportunity to hear from:

    • Jeff Tollefson (CEO, MnTech), Brian Tilzer (CDO, Best Buy), and Steve Grove (Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development) about the urgency of the need,
    • Me on the data and stories compelling action as well as proposed strategies,
    • Industry leaders on a Business Panel and Training and Development Panel about challenges and current work taking place, and,
    • Tawanna Black on the crucial role that equity and inclusion will play in developing existing talent and becoming preferred workplaces for new talent.

Next Steps

Based on the input of more than 80 leaders focused on specific solutions, MnTech is advocating for the following vision and 3 specific priorities:

MnTech calls for a collective push from educational institutions, nonprofits, business, and civic leaders to equitably double the development of technology talent in our state over the next 10 years.

1. Inspire new technologist and develop participation in technology work experiences by partnering with educational staff, nonprofits, and businesses to develop a statewide tech engagement framework that dramatically increases engagement in multiple tiers of work experiences leading to tech careers.

2. Grow participation in computer science coursework through dramatically increasing the number of teachers trained to integrate computer science concepts into existing K-8 courses and teach distinct high school computer science courses, with priority given to educators from schools with over 50% students of color, and/or from urban or rural settings with over 50% of students who qualify for free/reduced lunch.

3. Launch an employer led partnership focused on establishing technology career pathways and cross-agency collaboration with an early focus on dropping 4-year degree requirements for three high growth, in-demand tech roles to bring Minnesota employers in line with national best practices.

How You Can Get Involved

Be part of designing and reviewing a tech workforce engagement framework: If you, your school, or your company are involved in tech tours, internships, apprenticeships, tech work-based learning, or other activities intended to speed the development of future technologists, we would request your help in developing and testing a framework designed to guide participants toward the skills, relationships, and experiences needed to get their first technology job. You can contact me ( for more information on this initiative.

Support the Computer Science Education Advancement Act: Minnesota needs a statewide strategy to get out of last place in computer science education. MnTech is working in conjunction with CSforAll-MN to advocate for passage of the CSEAA. You can support the passage by:

Learn more about tech talent challenges and solutions: Hear more about both at our first ever Tech Talks event (think TED style event for technologists hosted by MnTech) taking place in March at the University of St Thomas. Event registration opens on in the coming weeks.

View photos from the Minnesota Tech Workforce Summit