Teaching Mainframe Skills to Your Incoming Gen Z Workforce
Project and Program: Enterprise-wide
, zNextGen Project
, SHARE St. Louis 2018
Generation Z is knocking on the door to full-time employment, and they’ll make up 20 percent of America’s workforce by 2020. But are enterprise IT professionals prepared to teach a new group of workers, unaccustomed to the mainframe, the skills to manage today’s most critical IT environments for the largest organizations in the country
Last year, Ensono’s Ken Harper spoke at SHARE about the challenge of recruiting young talent for mainframe operations. There’s a skills gap facing mainframe operations, and for organizations to effectively maintain these environments, they need to succession plan. But once you’ve added these employees, of which almost none have prior mainframe experience, how do you first train them, and from there, retain them?
Gen Z grew up with the internet, so they’re hungry for knowledge and process information vastly different than other age brackets. In 2000, adolescent attention spans were 12 seconds. Today, they are 6-8 seconds. Growing up with tablets, smartphones and other high technology, Gen Zers have smaller attention spans and take in information in shorter spans of time.
To effectively educate this group of workers, employers will have to adjust training methods and internal programs. For example, the gamification of learning is particularly effective among Gen Z. How does this apply to mainframes? Teaching Gen Z workers technical skills will be a faster process than it was with other age groups because of the way they grew up.
While teaching technical skills may be a more seamless process for the new generation, reinforcing soft skills will be more of a focus for managers. For a group that grew up on iPads, face-to-face communication and teamwork skills may not come as naturally. Businesses’ internal training programs will have to alter the content to capture a soft skills emphasis.
Additionally, mentorship is a better strategy than managing. A global study by Universum discovered Gen Zers want to be "people leaders who serve the world around them." Mentorship programs are an effective way to pass down a wide range of skills, while offering young talent more of a coaching approach rather than management.
For this topic, Ken Harper will be joined by members of Ensono’s mainframe team, all of which are part of the workforce’s youngest age bracket, for a panel discussion. Jim Kokoszynski, VP, Software Engineering at CA Technologies will join the Ensono team to discuss best practices and explain how CA is adjusting for young, incoming talent.-Ken Harper-Ensono; Caroline McNutt-Ensono
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