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IBM launches Mainframe Skills Council with SHARE, other organizations

Initial members include Academic Mainframe Consortium, Albany State University, Broadcom, DNB Bank, HOGENT, M&T Bank, Northern Illinois University, Rocket Software, SHARE, and 21CS.

IBM introduced the Mainframe Skills Council to provide a forum where global organizations will foster a skilled, diverse, sustainable workforce for the mainframe platform.

In addition to IBM, the council includes organizations spanning IBM clients, IBM partners, academia, user groups, non-profits, and open communities that will collaborate to implement mainframe skills development solutions. Initial members include Academic Mainframe Consortium, Albany State University, Broadcom, DNB Bank, HOGENT, M&T Bank, Northern Illinois University, Rocket Software, SHARE, and 21CS.

“As the SHARE Premier Education and Technology Platform Provider in 2024, IBM is well-positioned to address today’s technology skills challenges, something that every organization is grappling with as new innovation is unveiled,” said Meredith Stowell, Vice President, IBM Z Ecosystem. “The mainframe community has been working to close the mainframe generational skills gap and we’ve seen substantial progress. The Mainframe Skills Council represents an exciting opportunity to build on these advancements and ignite the community to share experiences and create mainframe talent solutions that can grow with the platform.”

New research affirms industry efforts to increase mainframe skills 

As today’s businesses adapt to economic shifts in the market and new advances in technology, skills are a key part of success for every organization. According to a 2022 IBM Transformation Index: State of Cloud survey, 56 percent of companies surveyed have embraced a hybrid cloud operating model. IBM Z, as a key part of many clients’ hybrid cloud environments, provides a resilient, and agile IT platform to help drive clients’ digital transformations. Mainframe skills will be particularly critical for the success of many businesses as they implement AI, modernize their applications, and focus on digital transformation. 

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New research from The Futurum Group, 2024 Global Mainframe Skills Report: Insights from Industry and Educational Experts, commissioned by IBM, Broadcom, and 21CS shows continued demand in mainframe talent as well as progress in growing the mainframe workforce as the mainframe community works together to build skills.

The survey highlighted a generational gap in mainframe skilling with an influx of early career talent, while calling attention to the existing demand for experienced mainframe professionals with 79 percent of respondents recruiting for mid-career mainframe positions and 51 percent recruiting for entry-level positions. In fact, in 2023, 32 percent of mainframe employers responding to the global survey hired 11-20 mainframe related roles and 35 percent hired more than 20 mainframe roles. In addition, 91 percent of employer respondents said they are planning to hire talent for new mainframe positions in the next 1-2 years, investing in and growing their mainframe IT teams.

The survey results also underscored increased opportunities for mainframe job-seekers to learn and grow their skills regardless of where they are in their careers with 75 percent of responding university leaders indicating that their institution offers course curricula for students to learn mainframe skills and 83 percent of student respondents indicating they are learning mainframe skills through their university.

Companies are also taking advantage of the community resources available in the market to find, train and develop mainframe talent. Sixty percent of mainframe employers surveyed report that they rely on non-traditional skills resources as a mainframe hiring or recruitment strategy, such as working with industry vendors on bootcamp, training, or apprenticeship programs. And mainframe employers who invest resources in the platform indicated they have less trouble finding skills, with 71 percent of companies, who invest at least $10 million in their mainframe environment, surveyed saying they sufficiently or fully met their hiring goals for mainframe system administrator roles in 2023.

To help encourage growth in the mainframe industry and improve access to skills, IBM and many other industry vendors are working with universities, mainframe employers, online learning platforms, training providers, and workforce as well as community organizations to offer additional learning opportunities to help clients support their mainframe platform with a vibrant technical community.

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Mainframe Skills Council to inspire, connect, train, and grow mainframe talent

“There is a significant and growing demand for skills training, apprenticeships, and networking opportunities in the tech space,” says Kate Holterhoff, a senior analyst with RedMonk who specializes in IT and developer upskilling. “IBM’s Mainframe Skills Council expands the range of options for individuals looking to reskill into a career as a mainframe professional.”

In addition to IBM offering training, industry-recognized digital badging, academic community support, and non-traditional pathway programs, the broader IBM Z global community of universities, clients, user groups, and partners also provide mainframe skills solutions and insights. The Mainframe Skills Council brings together organizations to share experiences and collaboratively implement solutions to build a strong global workforce for the mainframe platform. The council will include working groups focused on career awareness, competency frameworks, learning paths, as well as professional development. Council goals include:

  • Showcase a vibrant mainframe talent pool
  • Align on common industry competency frameworks
  • Share ideas and practices to enhance professional development
  • Share education, training tools, and related resources to optimize overall mainframe career experience for professionals and leaders
  • Increase mainframe employer adoption of proven skill initiatives and practices

“We had a business challenge of a tenured mainframe workforce,” said Gary Fusco, Engineering Director, M&T Bank. “We partnered with IBM and Franklin Apprenticeships to develop a mainframe skills education program at M&T. By about six months into the program, our apprentices were coding on COBOL and installing new products on the IBM Z platform.” 

IBM Z Skills Programs and Resources

New today, IBM is introducing the IBM Z Mainframe Skills Depot, a comprehensive platform for accessing mainframe skills training. Learners can choose from specialized tracks tailored to roles such as System Administrator, Application Developer, or Modernization Architect and access over a thousand of hours of self-paced, no-charge, hands-on learning to earn industry-recognized digital badges.

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IBM offers additional non-traditional skills programs and resources beyond the classroom including the IBM Z Global Skills Accelerator and Apprenticeship program. With over 300 hours of learning, success coaching, on the job training, and mentorship, this program has enabled 83 global employers to skill up over 440 mainframe system administrators and application developers across 13 countries. In addition, the IBM Z Student Ambassador program provides leadership opportunities for students and supports mainframe student clubs on campuses at more than 95 universities worldwide.

To connect mainframe talent to employers, IBM sponsors IBM Z Virtual Career Fairs around the world to bring together IBM clients, partners, and badged mainframe talent. To participate in the career fair as a job candidate or organization, please register here.

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