By: Joel Crandall – VP of Talent at MnTech

Welcome to our quarterly MnTech Talent blog where we look at the current ‘State of Tech Talent in Minnesota’.

It is October in Minnesota, and for the first time in 18 tries, the Twins won a playoff baseball game. This win ended the longest postseason losing streak in history. Though the organization has fielded some good teams over the past two decades, they have struggled, when the pressure was on, to produce meaningful results. This year– the Twins kept their ‘eye on the ball’.

Keeping your ‘eye on the ball’ is hard to do. In all competitions, blocking out noise is critical. Finding the most important task within your control to execute on in these pressure moments can determine winning or losing.This past quarter has brought an enormous amount of noise from layoffs and slow hiring to continued talk of recession. Here’s a closer look at contributing factors.

‘The Noise’

Technology job postings in Minnesota hit their lowest level in the last 5 years in September. There were 6,213 unique roles posted, which is down 62% from one year ago in September. This is challenging news, especially to individuals currently seeking employment in the sector.

In this way, Minnesota mirrors larger national trends reported by Amanda Hoover in Wired. In her article, Finding a Tech Job Is Still a Nightmare, she shares several illustrative numbers about the last two years in tech talent:

  • 400,000 – workers laid off at tech companies
  • 2.5% – the loss of jobs in the information sector over this period
  • 780,000 – The number of registrants for H-1B visas this year to date—an increase of 60 percent over the previous year

One other number combination resonated deeply: $61,000:79,000. These numbers, the median tech sector salary from last year and this year respectively, may initially seem positive. But Lightcast economist Rachel Sederberg notes that this pairs with a decrease in entry level role postings.  She states that organizations “right-sized, realigned, and readjusted,” adding that “They started hiring back up. They’re likely hiring for different profiles.”

This trend coincides with what our Talent team at MnTech is seeing locally.

    • We continue to hear about some layoffs, but more about the downward pressure that layoffs place on job growth and progression for technologists still employed.
    • We hear from college graduates struggling to convert technology degrees along with internship experience to a first tech hire.
    • We hear from boot camp, self-taught, and early tenured technologists about how difficult it is to get noticed, interviewed, hired, and retained.

‘Eye on the Ball’
Downturns in job markets are cyclical. After years of low unemployment and increased hiring, it shouldn’t come as a shock that cooling would happen. And yet, workers that have been preparing for careers in tech, are now stuck. They have training and some experience, but no active pathway toward tech employment. There are opportunities for our tech community to keep our ‘eye on the ball.’ Amid the challenges we are facing, to use this disruption to develop more equitable and sustainable pathways into technology careers. MnTech is working to be a community convener in the midst of these challenges, and we invite you to join us.

Here are 5 other talent trends and headlines from Q3, 2023:

1. MnTech’s Tech Talent 2023– ‘Eye on the Ball: Equitable, end to end, tech talent development: With all the changes happening within the tech talent market, there is no better time to pull together as a community to discuss end-to-end talent development strategies. Join us on October 27th to network, learn, and act.

    • Opening session guests include Brian Tilzer (CDATO, Best Buy), Willie Jett (Commissioner, Department of Education), Marc Majors (Deputy Commissioner, Department of Employment and Economic Development), Renee Edwards (VP, Optum), and Brad Thompson (SVP, Target).
    • Tracks throughout the day will focus on learning and action:
      • Computing education: The first ever statewide computer science educator conference is convening as part of tech talent. This year the focus is on computing education policy.
      • Inspire: Education and community-based solutions for inspiring new technologists
      • Hire: Trends and approaches for hiring early, mid, and senior level technologists
      • Develop and Retain: Equitably developing technology teams

2. Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development releases Request for Proposals (RFP) around building future tech workforce: As part of their Drive for Five initiative, DEED received funding that specifically calls out work with trade organizations as they put together tracks into employment in industries including tech.

    • Overview: Read more about why the state sees tech job development as vital—and what roles they feel are most in demand.
    • RFP: You can read more about what the DEED is looking for in solution providers supporting tech talent development over the next two years.

3. Five competencies of transformational technology leaders: Deloitte undertook research to determine the competencies required of transformational technology leaders in 2023. They found that the top competencies were:  

    • Engineer. Build, operate, and optimize business operations and technology capabilities. 
    • Architect. Envision, design, and oversee technology environments to help ensure resilience and scalability while maintaining agility.
    • Data scientist. Collect, manage, and analyze data while delivering insights and identifying opportunities to monetize tech assets and drive business growth.
    • Change agent. Instigating, managing, and delivering large complex digital transformations across the enterprise.
    • Owner. Deep business acumen and stakeholder relationships so they can preemptively identify business challenges and create innovative solutions.

4. Two reports detail challenging Minnesota employee news: If you’re interested in how employment challenges within tech fit into a larger, statewide context, I would encourage you to look at two reports that were released recently.

    • Minnesota’s Vanishing Workforce: Lightcast, a labor market analytics company, was commissioned to study how and why Minnesota is facing labor market headwinds. You can access the report here, or watch a recap from two of the researchers here. The combination of lower fertility rates, lower workforce participation rates are significantly impacting the number of available workers. The researchers recommend several approaches that could help to change this trend.
    • ‘Minnesota is losing more college students than it attracts, a troubling trend’: Jessie Van Berkel and MaryJo Webster, reporting for the Star Tribune, shared the troubling trend of Minnesota being a net exporter of first-time college students. This means that more students choose to leave the state to study elsewhere than come to Minnesota from other places to study. Additionally, students are choosing to stay outside of the state rather than returning.

5. Tekne Awardfinalists announced in several talent related categories: The Tekne Awards is a celebration of the excellence and innovation within Minnesota’s technology ecosystem. Now in its 25th year, the Minnesota Technology Association hosts this event to honor the leaders and leading organizations who are fueling Minnesota’s tech-driven economy, with 16 Tekne Awards. The finalists were recently released, and they included the following talent related categories:

    • Tech Talent Development (Corporate Initiative) 
      • U.S. Bank
      • Daugherty Business Solutions
      • NetSPI
      • NCXT 
    • Building Our Tech Future (Solution Provider, Agency, Non-Profit)
      • Code Savvy
      • createMPLS 
      • High Tech Kids 
      • Science from Scientists
    • Tech Educator of the Year
      • Shannon Seaver (announced as winner)

Congratulations to all these Tekne finalists!