The focus of the second annual FullConTech conference, put on by the Washington Technology Industry Association, was all about attracting, growing, and retaining diverse talent.


Photo courtesy Karen Miller.

The morning keynote was the chance of a lifetime for Technology Access Foundation (TAF) Academy student Jackson Patterson. He sat on stage and interviewed Gov. Jay Inslee for the keynote address.

TAF Academy is a program in the Federal Way School District. Patterson is a senior in the program.

Inslee spoke about what the state is doing to improve the technology talent pipeline, especially with diverse hires. Inslee said the state wants to provide an equal opportunity for those entering the workforce from school. And that starts early.

“Something that people don’t think of as a tech issue, but I do, is early childhood education,” said Inslee.

Inslee said expanding the pool of talent means investing in students when they’re young. That means early exposure to technology such as coding. Inslee said the goal is to expose students early in public education so everyone has an equal opportunity.

The morning session also included three “flash talks” featuring different stories of the tech workplace.

FullConTech began in 2015, with the purpose of being a problem-solving conference. The first half of the conference is panels and the latter half brings smaller groups together to brainstorm and create solutions. The WTIA will put together a “playbook” featuring the outcome of brainstorming sessions. The conference was held at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond.