Welcome to “The Horse’s Mouth” with Tom McManus, a unique talk show where guests belly up to the bar to discuss business, marketing, and life. No gossip, no hearsay, no BS, just the straight-up truth, right from the source.

Tom’s longtime love of bartending has come full circle since his days as a linebacker on the inaugural Jacksonville Jaguars football team—slinging drinks and talking shop with everyone from high-profile sports figures and entertainers to business leaders, journalists, and community leaders. Tom and guests trade insight and anecdotes, explore day-to-day topics and tackle the hard subjects, all with equal measures of energy, honesty, and laughter. Get the skinny on the real people behind the headlines, straight from the horse’s mouth.

This week, Tom spoke with Matthew Parks from Pace Center for Girls, James Lampke from Robert Half Technology, and Vanessa Williams from iFly Indoor Skydiving on the importance of reaching out to the next generation of tech creators.

It seems that Jacksonville is becoming a centerpiece for technology companies. Would you agree with that or have we still got a long way to go?

Matthew Parks

I think it’s a little bit in between. I think we’ve made a lot of inroads in that way, we have distinguished ourselves. The problem is now we’re importing talent, we need to start to develop more homegrown talent. We should be picking from our own garden. We need to do what we call pipelining where we have targeted magnet programs starting earlier than high school. It should start in elementary and middle school, which has a horrible gap when it comes to technology.

James Lampke

I don’t think it is ever too early to start. There are now opportunities in St. John’s and here in Duval where they’re taking an opportunity to create code camps where kids are learning to solve basic day issues not necessarily through coding or through technology but using the same processes that an I.T. professional is gonna use. It’s a huge area of opportunity for us, not only as a nation as a whole but here in Jacksonville to continue to be able to chase that emerging technology. Everything we do is on the phone, everything we do is connected to the Internet in some way shape or form. The things on the back end don’t get all the hype. There is so much you can do with that skill.

Vanessa Williams

Not only are we a developing city here and growing as rapidly as we are but as you mentioned a lot of the youth think of technology as video games and such, but it is so much more than that. Even with our facility, we have so much technology that goes behind it, not only the technology just to run the systems that we have for our customers and gas, but also the system that it takes to actually run the indoor tunnel.

Matthew Parks

I took my sons over to McDonald’s in my old neighborhood in town and there were one cashier and four touch screens. That job is going away, but someone had to put these machines together and service them. It’s important to provide the next generation with the skills necessary to keep up.

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