That following fall I was asked to give a talk to Franklin High School seniors at their Career Day. This day consisted of the students sitting in the stands in the gym and listening to people talk to them. Or, should I say, talk _at_ them.
The person before me on the program was from the local workforce development office. She talked about trends in the regional economy. She highlighted that growth in our local economy was primarily being driven by two tech-based industrial sectors, advanced manufacturing, and software.
Then it was my time to talk. In front of me were about 350 students. I started by referencing what they had just heard from the previous speaker. Advance manufacturing and software as the drivers of new economic opportunity.
I then asked how many of them might be interested in going into software development. Three hands were raised, way up in the back – less than 1% of the students. We were so screwed.
I had to quickly shake them up. I began, “We are living in the center of one of the most dynamic tech communities in the country. Companies powered by creative software development.”
I then asked them to pull out their mobile phones. “How many of you are interested in learning how to create something that used these phones?” I noted that many raised their hands. “This is the future,” I told them.
Then came questions including one I hadn’t expected: “Mr. Morrison,” the student said, “we get it, we know where the future is going. But we’re seniors and will soon be graduating. How have you adults prepared us for that future?”
I looked out into the stands at the kids of my community. Some I had known since they were learning how to walk, and one was a fearless truth-teller. My heart sank.
Sheepishly, I admitted that he was right. We had failed them.
Quickly, on my feet, I began to spin up some ideas. And I made a promise that, before they graduated, we would do something that helped introduce them to this future. We would launch something.
I then asked, when we did launch, what might the program be called? Another student raised their hand and suggested we call it "Tech for Tomorrow". Okay, I promised, Tech for Tomorrow would be launched in six weeks.
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