Demand Grows for System z Skills

Educational resources and job opportunities abound for tech students who know where to look

The mainframe has fought an image problem since it was prematurely declared dead a couple of decades ago, as client/server systems—now being replaced by the cloud—became all the rage. For the better part of a decade, IBM has endeavored to change these perceptions with an initiative to attract high school and college students to mainframe-focused careers. The efforts, which include partnerships with colleges and universities, and the Master the Mainframe contest that challenges students to create solutions, have started to pay off, say IBM executives.

2950231 A decade ago, students would have dismissed any suggestion of learning mainframe skills as “not cool,” said Ray Jones, vice president of IBM System z Software. But that’s changing as IBM has forged partnerships with hundreds of schools around the world.

Jones and the mainframe community are confident the change will continue, as legions of technicians proficient in the mainframe and z/OS near retirement age, and will need to be replaced. Though a new generation of techs has started to wake up to these opportunities, the mainframe crowd typically trends older. Fifty-three percent of z/OS techs have 20 or more years of experience.

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