Bring Professional Development In-House to Manage the Mainframe Skills Gap

If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, the old saying goes. When it comes to developing enterprise IT professionals, companies increasingly must nurture talent internally, according to Dave Hilbe, senior director of product development at BMC.

Because there aren't many college-level mainframe degrees anymore, few students graduate with the knowledge of System z they would need to hit the ground running in their first job.

But if you hire the right people and structure a well-choreographed professional development program, your company will produce the talent it needs to stay competitive, Hilbe recently wrote in the Indianapolis Recorder. Your company will also be more likely to retain exceptional talent if you give them the tools they need to grow into top-tier professionals.

Much has been made of the mainframe skills shortage -- the gap between the number of retiring enterprise IT professionals and new talent coming in to take their place. Though the gap is real, it doesn't have to be that way.

Hilbe believes companies should create a clear career development plan that takes a deep look at a new hire's first two years on the job, complete with intermittent milestones.

"It’s essential to define these milestones for two reasons," Hilbe wrote. "First, you have skills clearly defined by which you can measure how well the college hire is progressing. Second, you can use the expected job functions to define your training plans."

Mentorship is also a key to helping new hires feel they have a trusted resource to ask questions, teach company protocol and assist in goal setting.

While mentorship at the company level is invaluable, it's also important for those new to mainframe technologies to learn from IT professionals with a diverse range of backgrounds. That's where SHARE comes in.

The zNextGen community offers an ongoing network of support and mentorship that connects those early in their career with more seasoned IT professionals. It's a welcoming environment for building the foundation of a life-long career with System z at the center.

Ultimately, this kind of professional development pays off for everyone. New hires bring new perspectives and, as SHARE representatives have said, help re-energize professionals who are nearing retirement.

Become your own pipeline for talent, and you'll bridge the skills gap in no time.

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