To all students: Want a career in IT? Look to the mainframe

CA Technologies shows its support for addressing the skills gap in large systems computing at this year’s Enterprise Computing Conference in New York state.

On the Highlight blog, we’ve been talking a lot about the relevance of the mainframe and its role in the application economy. But what about its relevance to the next generation of mainframers?

In a world that’s increasingly mobile, where we’re more likely to interact with a company via their app than a person, we’re also seamlessly interacting with the mainframe. Think about the last time you used your bank’s app to check your balance – communication from your mobile to the mainframe allows you to receive real time data in ways that were probably unimaginable even a few years ago. But the availability of data anytime, anywhere isn’t something foreign to the next generation about to head off to university.

Addressing the mainframe skills shortage

Earlier this month at the 7th Annual Enterprise Computing Conference hosted by Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, fresh-faced 18 and 19-year-olds learned about new opportunities on the mainframe. The event attracted over 1,200 representatives from industry, including CA Technologies, and academia.

CA's Scott Fagen (left) and Jim Kokoszynski (right) at the conference.

CA’s Scott Fagen (left) and Jim Kokoszynski (right) at the conference.

One of the main aims of the ECC National Conference, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and backed by leading technology companies including CA Technologies and IBM, is to address the skills shortages in large systems computing. Marist School of Computer Science and Mathematics dean Dr. Roger Norton highlighted this challenge:

“Industry and government are struggling to attract new technologists to replace aging workers, who manage the enterprise computing systems that are vital to continued economic growth and national security.

“This will leave gaps in the workforce in a variety of areas critical to our country: banking, commerce, healthcare, public safety, transportation and the military.”

Mainframers: The next generation

Participating in the ECC National Conference is one of many ways that CA shows its support for bringing up the next generation of mainframers. Through programs like Associate Software Engineer (ASE), CA is helping to ensure that computer science skills, such as coding on large enterprise systems, aren’t lost when the baby boomers retire.

However, in the midst of cloud, Big Data and analytics, learning mainframe skills will help students get jobs when they graduate, as there’s a gap for these skills in the market. While jobs and a good salary are excellent motivators, the students also demonstrated some natural curiosity about enterprise computing in terms of the transition from Waterfall to Agile approach to software development.

How CA is leading the next gen mainframer way

But it would appear that the tide is turning, at least at companies like CA where 42 percent of mainframers in the CA workforce today are 35 or younger. While the mainframe may not immediately come to mind when the next generation thinks about a career in IT, for those who see and understand its relevance in today’s app economy, it won’t be a choice they’ll regret anytime soon.


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