For years the IT press has been chronicling the demise of the mainframe, only to observe its amazing staying power in the world's largest enterprises. One reason the mainframe still reigns supreme is its power, upward compatibility, security and availabilty,  Another reason is the fact that there are multiple millions of lines of proprietary code that would take decades to replicate on other platforms.

It's well known that as the mainframe continues to mature, so do the technicians working on them. Retirements happen, and replacements are needed. For a reason that defys common sense, most colleges still do not offer mainframe-specific courses in their computer science departments: Especially because there is such a high demand for young, bright people with mainframe skills. In addition, securing a job working with mainframes most assuredly will be very secure and profitable. 

It's also true that once millennials have solid mainframe skillsets their opportuities magnify geometrically to not only those enterprises using mainframes, but to sexy new startups as well, according to an excellent article written by Sharon Florentine that recently appeared in CIO titled, "Millennials Can Thrive By Adding Mainframe Skills." It was originall posted at, and is re-posted here in its entirety.


Millennials Can Thrive By Adding Mainframe Skills, By Sharon Florentine

As older IT workers retire, the industry is in danger of losing critical mainframe technology skills. But tapping millennials to fill these critical roles is helping to keep innovation alive.

"Credit cards, insurance companies, banks, government systems—or any kind of large batch systems that use transactions like that, the mainframe is still the best at what it does from a processing speed and security perspective. That's why it lives on. And it sustains within large enterprises because there's no comparable cloud derivative, for one, and there's often millions of lines of proprietary, unique code that would be unreasonable to rework for another type of platform," says Chris O'Malley, president and CEO, Compuware.

Most organizations that can do so have already moved most of their workloads from mainframes to the cloud or other distributed systems. But those that can't are facing a severe talent shortage.

Skills Shortage

A shortage of mainframe skillsets and talent isn't surprising; baby boomers that were proficient in these skills are retiring and the entire IT industry is challenged by the skills gap. The 2008 recession actually slowed the mainframe talent drain, as older workers remained on the job well after retirement age and were able to help up-and-coming talent through mentoring and training, but the effect was only temporary.

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