The first two parts of this article:

The Mainframe Lives and Thrives – Part 1

The Mainframe Lives and Thrives – Part 2

The conclusion of many papers, often quoting CIOs, is that lack of mainframe talent is threatening to damage their business and that there is no adequate education ‘feeder’ source to satisfy demand for ‘mainframers’ (See the Appendix for an IBM education initiative). This is perfectly understandable given that few, if any computing courses worldwide even mention the mainframe, let alone talk about it.

This I feel is disingenuous and does students and the commercial world a disservice by sealing off certain important IT career paths and opportunities. Anyone who believes the mainframe is dead probably believes Elvis lives.

Granted, there are many courses teaching machine-independent topics, such as AI, but there is no general course which covers modern IT – and that includes the mainframe. Such a course would parallel the general medical school which must precede any movement to medical specialisation and I believe this principle – general before specific – applies to the IT world.

It would provide the base for following the mutation of jobs which occurs in IT whichever job you are in. It is said that the half-life on a particular job in IT is 24 months so a shift in skills is almost inevitable for most people.

If businesses undertaking digital transformation are hampered by talent shortages in key and critical application areas, their future does not look very rosy and we have alluded earlier how many companies rely heavily on mainframes.

Which sane person can claim the mainframe is dead, dying or that there is no future in joining the mainframe band wagon? As Mark Twain noted; ‘Everybody is talking about the weather, nobody is doing anything about it’. His thesis applies to the IT skills shortage today, especially in the mainframe arena which the above statistics show is vital to commerce and industry.

It is also crying out for people who can handle the mainframe beasts, hence IBM’s efforts to take the mainframe to students and others who would otherwise be unaware of it and the career opportunities associated with it. There are many dead-end jobs in IT; the mainframe path is not one of them. The mainframe is a career, not just a job.

There are many aspects to the mainframe and with them many job types and levels. The mainframer might get grey hairs in that environment but never bored. His/her only regret on retirement may well that they didn’t sample all the job opportunities the mainframe ecosphere offered.

This I feel is disingenuous and does students and the commercial world a disservice by sealing off certain important IT career paths and opportunities. Anyone who believes the mainframe is dead probably believes Elvis lives.

References (of many on the same topic)

The Mainframe is Here to Stay: 5 Take-Aways for Mainframe DevOps

As Baby Boomers retire, the shortage of mainframe professionals grows more acute

Author’s Books

Open Systems: The Reality
BCS Practitioner Series ISBN 0-13-030735-1

High Availability IT Services

High Performance IT Services

Making It in IT

Modern IT Concepts and Technology: An IT Study Guide for Beginners and Practitioners Kindle Edition

Joining the Mainframe Bandwagon

IBM has been offering mainframe education for some time now to try to fill the mainframe skills gap which is mainly a result of the disappearance of mainframe veterans due to retirement and other reasons. There are no credible mainframe courses offered in schools, Universities or similar education facilities and IBM has stepped in to remedy this urgent need.

In the early 1990s, IBM and other IT companies had financial problems, many of them due to raid growth. The major IBM customers were aghast at the distant prospect of IBM’s demise and almost told IBM ‘ .. don’t you dare fail or many of us will follow you’. Many companies today rely almost 100% on IBM mainframe products in their business and this is the impetus for quality mainframe training and underlines the importance of solid mainframe environment support.

Where Do I Start?

One starting point for this training is the IBM Student Hub, accessible via the link below.

IBM Z Global Student Hub

‘For students wanting to explore IT careers and the technology that powers the Fortune 500 companies and oils the wheels of the world of financial transactions.’

IBM Community Z

This hub has three main sections:

  1. Master the Mainframe, a competition for mainframe students. You can kick off with this learning via the next link: Master the Mainframe Learning System Registration
  2. Start on IBM Z, which is a start point for learning about the current mainframe environment in a variety of ways
  3. Past Webinars, where the learner can check out what has been discussed previously, complemented by blogs created by other learners.

On the Hub, the learner can ask questions, find webinars and learning resources, and develop their skills and it is hoped these tools and resources help learners to explore the world of enterprise computing.

If participants have any questions, they can be posted in the discussion board so there is a community feel about this mode of learning, as close as one can get to campus learning.

There are learning facilities, such as videos and blogs by fellow learners to help others understand what this unique education environment is about.

Of course, IT cannot live by the mainframe alone but by the software, services and methodologies which support it. These too can be picked up by working from this hub and from connections within it.

In addition, there are external courses on specific aspects of the mainframe, for example, COBOL and CICS, the backbone of much of the work done on the mainframe. See the Mainframe Lives and Thrives: The Proof white paper.

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