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Taking college campuses by storm for mainframe talent

Jeff Shoup

Jeff Shoup
Mainframe Solution Architecture Leader

If you are a mainframe technology manager or leader, what might be your biggest concern? Cost? Flexibility? Talent? The number one concern in almost every shop today is the aging workforce.

“I have team members who could retire tomorrow.” “I have guys past retirement age that are working for a little bit longer.” This is what I hear all the time. The aging workforce, which we’ve been hearing about for a number of years, seems finally to be our reality and at the top of the list.

If you are a vendor or a user of mainframe technology, or more specifically, a decision maker or a hiring manager, are you actually filling your support ranks with “the next generation” of mainframe talent to keep the very complex mainframe ecosystem viable?

And what are college kids thinking these days…are they looking to work on something “cool” (insert latest fad programming language du jour) or are they looking to enter the workforce with a skill that is actually marketable and can “feed their family”?

Anyone reading this blog knows that bright, hardworking college grads with a Computer Science degree and some decent mainframe curriculum could practically write their own ticket. But are technical support managers reaching out to their local colleges and universities expressing the options within their firms to join their technical or operational teams? Are they the unofficial cheerleaders, encouraging college administrators to keep (or restart) their mainframe curriculum? These are important questions because there are (and will continue to be) a lot of jobs out there. IBM predicts that approximately 37,200 new mainframe administration positions will emerge worldwide by 2020 and that does not include the open positions that companies are having trouble filling today. Colleges will, for the most part, teach what students are interested in (at least as far as career choices). If no one is taking mainframe courses, then colleges will stop offering them. On the other hand, if colleges know that employers in the area are hiring or wanting to hire more college graduates, wouldn’t they be more apt to preserve (and enhance) their mainframe curriculum? It’s a catch 22. It’s the chicken and the egg.

Let’s (virtually, or in person) reach out to our local colleges and universities with open job requisitions and sing the virtues of this platform, encouraging our schools to teach this technology! If we all do this together, our colleges will increase their mainframe course content and encourage college students to choose this career path. We need to be there alongside them, and of course with open positions. Nothing speaks louder than an employer with an open job requisition in his/her hand.

As part of a strategy that also includes internal training and promotion mixed with some outside hiring, we will be continuing to attend job fairs – and we encourage you to make this part of your strategy as well. When it comes to recruiting and college curriculum strategies, there is strength in numbers. Together, we can compel higher education to make this paradigm shift.

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