via ZDNet Asia
To safeguard their future employability, today's IT undergraduates need not rule out or restrict themselves entirely to mainframe skills, and should instead focus on being adaptable with all core technical know-how. This will allow them to better "cross-skill" in an industry where the technology is always progressing and whether mainframe skills will remain relevant or eventually die out will be dependent on external market forces.
Stanley Kwan, managing consultant at IT recruitment agency Greythorn, said the need for mainframe skills is driven by market demand which is ultimately dependent on IT vendors and organizations that still use mainframes in their business.
"As long as that market exists, there are job opportunities [for mainframes skills]," Kwan said.
Should they migrate or mainframes become obsolete in the future, these companies would still value the experience of IT professionals who had upgraded their technical skillsets, he added.
According to Kwan, any technical skillset--be it mainframe or otherwise--would become obsolete due to market development. "Hence, it is about continual education and training on newer technologies to create value for all parties [and], thereby, creating future employability," he said.
Peter Noblet, senior regional director at recruitment agency Hays Information Technology, concurred, noting that because technology progresses at a rapid pace, even within specific system areas, one version of a product can be completely obsolete within a few years.
He noted that mainframes are not completely obsolete today, but said there has been declining demand overall for mainframes and the associated skills over the last 5 to 10 years.
Noblet attributed this to enterprises that have been migrating core critical systems from mainframe to x86 architectures, due to rising costs of hardware, application and support maintenance contracts, as well as the difficulty of finding required skilled manpower.
In light of this, any new IT undergrad should not make mainframe skills their topmost priority, but instead should gain an understanding of mainframe environments while keeping in mind that the adoption of mainframes is shifting.
Noblet said: "In most businesses, there will always be the dusty system sitting in the corner which cannot be migrated to newer platforms for one reason or another… But with most modern IT infrastructure, mainframes are fast becoming a thing of the past.
"We would not advise IT undergrads to specialize exclusively [in mainframes] in today's fast-moving IT market. [Instead], we recommend cross-skilling into more current areas to ensure a smooth career transition when demand ultimately runs out."
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