IBM, users work to attract young mainframers

IBM and the Share user group will help IT students get mainframe jobs

IBM and the independent user group Share are teaming up to provide support for young people interested in mainframe computing, the organizations announced today. The initiative and its associated community is being dubbed "zNextGen," a reference to IBM's zSeries mainframe brand.

IBM and Share pledged to provide IT students with contacts and resources to help them find jobs in mainframe computing soon after graduation, according to a joint statement. The organizations will also support young people already embarked on big-iron careers with help in job networking.

Share President Robert Rosen recalled hearing from a recent graduate who had just become a mainframe systems trainee. "All his friends had said he was crazy to go to work for a company developing on mainframes," Rosen said in a recent interview. "But the trainee said, No. 1, he had a job and many of his friends didn't, and two, he said he could see how his career was laid out."

The potential market for young people with mainframe expertise is expanding as big-iron specialists head for retirement in the U.S. and Western Europe (see "Shortage of mainframe skills may give IT execs gray hairs"), opening up vacancies for new mainframe professionals. Elsewhere in the world, notably in China and Eastern Europe, companies are investing in more mainframes as they increase their computing power, and they are looking for people to run the systems.

Share will offer access to its global membership, including professionals working at Fortune 500 companies and in academia and the public sector. The intention is for both Share and IBM to offer mentoring and internships to those signing up to join zNextGen, the statement said.

ZNextGeners will also have a special section on a recently established mainframe community Web log, where they can share information and connect with their peers. Individuals already blogging on the main area of the site include IBM staffers; John Patrick, president of Attitude LLC and former vice president of Internet technology at IBM; Peter Armstrong, corporate strategist at BMC Software Inc.; and James Governor, RedMonk LLC principal analyst and co-founder.

IBM has been hard at work trying to raise the mainframe's profile among educational institutions, teachers and students with its Academic Initiative Program for the Mainframe for the past couple of years. To date, IBM has established courses in zSeries mainframes in 150 universities around the world, with the ultimate aim of turning out 20,000 mainframe-literate IT professionals within the next five years. About a quarter of IBM's revenue comes from its mainframe business, if sales of associated software and storage are factored in, according to industry analysts.

The company is also planning to kick off a mainframe contest next month with prizes for students in the U.S. and Canada. The contestants will all be given accounts on a z/OS hub and asked to complete a series of challenges. No previous knowledge of mainframes is necessary to enter the contest, according to the statement.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon