MnTech Hosts Day-Long Conference and Releases Report

The Minesota Technology Association hosted more than 250 leaders last Friday at Best Buy HQ for Tech Talent 2023. The event, fueled by Gold Sponsors Optum and Target and host sponsor Best Buy, brought together representatives from the region’s largest technology employers, schools, community-based organizations, and policy makers. Attendees listened, collaborated, and led sessions focused on inspiring, hiring, developing, and retaining tech talent in the state.

The timing and focus of the event resonated with attendees. The tech talent outlook in 2023 has radically shifted. Hiring that was ‘off the charts’ last year is now the slowest in 11 years. Employees who were leaving in record numbers are now staying. Artificial Intelligence continues to impact every element of the hiring process. Amid these changes, investments in nontraditional talent strategies slowed. Equity investments in new hires and talent development strategies reduced. And education struggled to keep pace training talent prepared to work in the modern workforce. During the din and disruption of 2023, focus on Minnesota’s shared future is required. The theme for this year’s event, ‘Eye on the ball: equitable, end to end, tech talent development’ served as MnTech’s challenge to the group.

    • The morning was kicked off by MnTech CEO, Jeff Tollefson, and Best Buy Chief Digital, Analytics and Technology Officer, Brian Tilzer, who shared about Best Buy’s current approach to growing technology talent.
    • Joel Crandall, VP of Talent at MnTech, recapped the year in Minnesota tech talent and challenged the audience to keep their ‘eye on the ball’ of equitably doubling the development of tech talent. The most compelling reason: current need numbers from Lightcast show that the state will need an additional 92,537 technologists over the next 10 years to keep up with role growth and replacement.
    • Keynote presenters shared what they are currently keeping their ‘eye on’ as part of collective efforts. Representing different areas, agencies, and approaches:
      • Willie Jett, Commissioner of the MN Department of Education, talked about the need for families, local employers, higher education, and community partners to collaborate with schools in inspiring future technologists.
      • Marc Majors, Deputy Commissioner of the DEED (Department of Employment & Economic Development), spoke about historic state investments in workforce development and grants recently released for community partnerships.
      • Renee Edwards, VP of Technical Product Management at Optum, described the approach of the state’s largest technology employer in hiring, retaining and developing their talent.
      • Brad Thompson, SVP of Data Science at Target, shared about the power of inclusion and the specific role of sponsorship in equitably growing technology leadership.
    • Computing education is one area of dramatic improvement needed to move the state ahead. MnTech collaborated with partner CSforAll-MN and sponsor ECEP (Expanding Computing Education Pathways) to host EPICMn (Expanding Pathways In Computing Minnesota), a track specifically focused on computing policy. This ‘conference within a conference’ also featured listening sessions to benefit the new statewide computer science education working group.
    • 27 speakers representing 20 different organizations dug into other topics related to inspiring, hiring, developing, and retaining technologists.

Look for additional photos, video content, and recaps of breakout sessions to be released in the next few weeks via the MnTech website and social media platforms.

Read the 2023 State of Tech Workforce Report