That following fall I was asked to give a talk to the seniors at Franklin High School 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 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. Interesting insight...
I then asked how many of them might be interested in going into software development. Three hands were raised way up in the back.
Quickly calculation: less than 1% of the students. We are so screwed.
So I started sharing with them that they were 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. I asked them how many were interested in learning how to create something that used these phones. More than half of their hands were raised. I noted that and told them that this was the future.
After I finished my talk I asked for questions. And then came the one I wasn't expecting: "Mr. Morrison", the student began, "we get it, we know where the future is going. But we are 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. That student 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.