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Mainframe Experts Dwindling - How to fill the Retirement Gap

Posted August 21, 2021 in News

Main Frame

The Prime Mainframe Programming Language Will Fade Away Unless New Trainees Replace the Retirees 

August 21, 2021 - Technology, the fastest growing sector of the American economy, is 10 percent of U.S. GDP. However, half a million open high-tech jobs in the U.S. need to be filled. Data science and machine learning courses are not being adapted by school systems and universities. Jobs are desperately needed in software development, data analytics and engineering as companies try to fill them. This was back in 2019, pre-pandemic. Two years later, as the workforce returns, the shortages are more apparent. 

Apprenticeships might help fill the gap. Retrain and hire workers that don’t necessarily have a four-year college degree. Reconsider how the recruit pool can fill the new jobs. Retirement, especially with Baby Boomers, only covers one third of the roles needed by enterprises for mainframe platforms.  

For example, businesses still use COBOL, which handles $3 trillion commercial transactions a day. There are 40 billion lines of COBOL still in operation, and another 5 billion new lines added each year. COBOL is still a very valuable business programming language, but few computer science schools have any courses in it. Your best chance is to look for it in a community college or a fee-based boot camp. 

So what can be done? 

One solution had IBM partnering with the Consumer Technology Association to launch the CTA Apprenticeship Coalition. They created thousands of new apprenticeships in 20 states.   

LEAD-IT Project Executive Director Dr. Cameron Seay wants to fill those gaps and generate excitement about the mainframe.  Seay was a former assistant professor of computer systems technology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (A&T) State University. He says few students ever get any exposure to mainframe technology. Few colleges and universities  — offer courses for those skills. NC A&T State University is one of just a few universities where the mainframe is center stage where students can learn on it. 

Everybody who works on a mainframe is over age 50. Businesses know this. Seay says, “I know shops with 80% of their people within five years of retirement. Some of them, it’s 100%.” Obviously, there is a critical need. The greatest challenge is to convince decision makers of organizations to address a very serious skills shortage. Business knows this all too well about the IT skills shortage. Yet few employers, or at least human resources to pay little attention to the acute need for mainframe skills. 

Xpanxion helps fill the gap. Its Step It Up Accelerated Talent Development program identifies and trains talent from local communities. By hiring veterans, women, and underrepresented resources, SIUA diversifies the internal workforce to solve our nation’s technology talent shortage. They build and fill the pipeline by consistently training and placing qualified and talented people. Step It Up Accelerated Talent is an approved Department of Labor Apprentice Program and a Department of Defense SkillBridge program. 

Once accepted, interns learn about Mainframes among other programming languages and responsible positions. 

Overall, retirees must be replaced. Proper training and guidance fill the growing knowledge and experience gap for the replacements. It must happen soon, or all known experience is lost upon when the retirees are gone. 


About Xpanxion - Solving business problems with technology. We are software product engineering experts with over 20+ years of experience delivering the technologies, software architectures, processes and people critical to delivering success. As a trusted partner, we focus on business solutions and alliances that provide end-to-end value to solving our customer’s problems. We focus on providing best-in-class solutions by developing custom solutions with modern technologies or by delivering industry recognized off the shelf solutions.

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