Millenials and the Mainframe

Millenials and the Mainframe

Unfortunately, we have started to see a trend where not many young professionals are joining the z workforce. Fortunately, myself and six others at IBM in 2014 were selected to be z Technical Client Specialists in the USA. If you are looking for an interesting, meaningful, and challenging job then you will definitely be impressed by what the mainframe environment can offer. 

On a daily basis you have a direct impact on the business decision and strategy supporting infrastructures of huge companies. “Every day is a new day” with a lot of learning opportunities and not just from hardware standpoint. This platform is diverse and used by many companies. Every client install is unique. You will be amazed by the different operating systems, software and databases that run on it and IBM continues expanding the supported software regularly. No other platform can offer such a diversified set up for your creativity, skill development and knowledge expansion. From career standpoint – this job does provide security and makes you really valuable on the market. Being a Java developer won’t necessarily make you stand out when you are looking for a next career move but mainframe skills will easily land you a job in any industry or top Fortune 500 company. The work environment is great for beginners as well. The community spirit is really strong among mainframers and the coworkers always embrace your passion and desire to learn. I would compare the teammates to an encyclopedia. The knowledge has been accumulated and used in the past couple of decades during many technological and industry changes. 

Many startups don’t get past the initial stages. Most will not be celebrating the 50th anniversary. 

The business model of z is different as well it is not just have to work but support millions of users, billions of transactions and no mistakes are allowed. It is a unique opportunity to start a career where you are making a direct impact on the critical business process of companies through the completion of your daily tasks. Getting any new role during a career change will require education and training and becoming a mainframer is no different. However, the scale of the challenges is much bigger, the opportunities are more exciting, and the tasks are interesting. You will get a job solving critical problems under close attention from the company leaders but the rewards are much higher as well.

I feel very lucky that a year and a half ago I was offered z technical role at IBM. No other platform can advance your knowledge that quickly, make you think big, work on solving real business problems, and connect with the smartest colleagues and customers.

Client Technical Specialist – z Systems

For more info on millenials click Master the Mainframe 

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6 thoughts on “Millenials and the Mainframe

  1. A very good article, you have put the merits and benefits of entering a career in system z very well indeed. As a someone that has worked on Mainframes since 1976 in operations, application programming and systems programming, I can vouch that every word you have said in the article is true. The security, speed and stability of the platform is second to none.

    I’m sold!

    However, I have a concern. It’s one that has been voiced frequently in other discussion forumsin the past, but sadly one that has not really being taken as seriously as I believe it should. You have touched on this too.

    I’m afraid that over here in the UK (and possibly Europe in general too), we have a problem. We are seeing very few younger people stepping up to the plate. All of the Univeristy education (in this country anyway) is geared around Open Systems platforms on dare I say, more ‘modern’ application development tools.

    I have been involved in interviews with young University graduates that seem to have no concept of system Z. When one candidate was asked directly whether they had any experience with, or any knowledge of, the Mainframe, the reply given was “Oh yes, Mainframes, they are a bit clunky aren’t they?”

    Most of the experienced Mainframe specialists with not only application, but overall platform knowledge skills required to maintain the critical systems that run on them are coming up to retirement now. Some companies are starting to outsource these ‘legacy systems’ as they are increasingly being referred to now, to overseas outsourcers. That comes with it’s own set of problems, but I’ll put those concerns to one side for now.

    The way I see it is that we are slowly approaching crisis point here. There appears to be no interest whatsoever in learning about the Mainframe in our Universities or Colleges no matter how well we dress the platform up. Having spoken to my daughter about this recently (she’s a UX devopler and App designer), she tells me that the term ‘Mainframe’ conjurs up images of men in white coats and clipboards in a room full of massive magnetic tape drives. The ‘green screen’ view remains at the heart of the term ‘Mainframe’. It is most disheartening!

    I am not really certain how widespread this problem is. It’s possible that in other countries the situation may be slightly different. However I can only go on my own observations and experiences based on a career spanning nearly forty years on the platform. I have seen Mainframe use drop dramtically in this country over the last ten years in particular.

    I hope this reply can be used as a basis for discussion as I would be very interested to canvass views. Maybe my view of the situation differs greatly to others that work with this platform.

    But as I have already mentioned, I can only speak as I see.

    I hope I’m wrong.

    A ‘soon-to-retire’ system z specialist.


    1. Thanks for your detailed and well considered response, we acknowledge the challenge you articulate and are working tirelessly on the Academic Initiative and the Master the Mainframe contest to address any skills gaps, we also recently started a jobs search and posting service to better align those looking for a career in z. If you want to blog on this site, please get in touch as keen to get your input…


  2. HI, I left a reply to this post several days back, but nothing seems to have appeared yet. Did it not meat moderation perhaps?

    Thanks, Jason


  3. James/Jason (did you change names in between comments lol?),

    For some reason your reply got ‘lost in the pile’, however this was seen (and fixed) by Phteven 🙂

    To reply to your original reply : I hope you’re wrong too!

    I see the same problem in The Netherlands, I’m considered to be one of the youngsters, however I’ll be turning 0x27 this year too 🙂 (so not that young anymore either……..darn when did that happen!)

    Anywho : there is some stuff going on at Schools in regards to our beloved platform, Belgium is leading here but also the UK is doing a good job.

    There’s going to be (am I allowed to say so yet?) ‘a thing’ organised at a Uni near Luton coming May (maybe you should come too?) I for one am going to be there to tell these youngsters all bout how flipping awesome this ‘Legacy’ platform is 🙂


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