A Partnership to Keep IT Jobs in Minnesota

News | Thursday, April 07,2011

From Minnesota Business

Recovery from the economic crisis means jobs, both creating new ones and protecting the ones that exist. A new partnership between Maverick Software Consulting and MnSCU intends to keep IT jobs here in Minnesota.

In 2006, Thomson Reuters was a client of Maverick Software Consulting. To help the company save money and give it a more reliable talent pipeline, Maverick established an office on campus at Minnesota State University in Mankato. Maverick recruited the best computer science students and offered them jobs in software testing and development. The students worked for an hourly wage with teams on Thomson Reuters projects.

“It’s great experience for the students at a convenient location and a good wage, and it gives them the start they need,” says Marty Hebig, founder and president of Maverick Software Consulting. “Thomson Reuters gets an affordable software development and testing resource in the same time zone. Then when the students graduate, Thomson can employ them full time.”

Now Maverick has partnered with Advance IT Minnesota, a program to develop the IT workforce in Minnesota that’s managed by MnSCU. The partnership will expand Maverick’s existing center to three more universities: Metropolitan State University in St. Paul and Minneapolis, St. Cloud State University and Winona State University. The offices at those schools will go live when Maverick finds clients interested in a similar arrangement to Thomson Reuters’.

The program makes sense for employers and employees, says Bruce Lindberg, executive director of Advance IT Minnesota. “It’s the supply side of the labor market we’re concerned about,” Lindberg explains. “We see the type of program Maverick runs as the best route to prepare students to be the kind of employees that companies are looking for—employees with experience, who already know how to work in their organization.”

Lindberg says that faculty at the targeted universities have been very supportive of the partnership. “They understand that the skills that employers want—like the ability to work on teams, take initiative, and be self-managed—students develop those skills in the workplace, not the classroom,” he says.

Equipment for the centers has already been purchased, and Hebig says that Maverick’s goal is to get at least one of them up and running in the next three months.

So far the Thomson Reuters program has been a success for Thomson and students alike, Hebig says. Not only has it kept millions of dollars in the local economy, it has led to jobs for nearly all the participants. “We’ve had 120 students graduate in the program in the last four years, and 119 of them have full-time jobs now,” he says. “Two went to Microsoft, seven to HP, three to Intel, and 27 to Thomson Reuters.”