Sponsored content from Broadcom
Mainframes continue to run much of the world’s business. With the current generation of mainframers approaching retirement, businesses that rely on mainframes need to be planning for the future. At Broadcom, we stood the mainframe skills gap challenge on its head and found a radical solution. If we could not find IT resources with interest and expertise in mainframe, we would make them.
The mainframe skills gap is predicated on the premise that businesses can do nothing other than recruit existing mainframe developers to fill their dwindling ranks. But, is that premise true? Not at all. The majority of businesses have talent development programs already in place within their organizations. For example, companies routinely train people to handle previously unfamiliar technical tasks, and coach people without leadership experience to become effective leaders. So we asked ourselves: Why should mainframe skills be treated differently? Why not intentionally build the mainframe resources that are needed?
There is definitely fertile ground for training new mainframe talent. “Opening up” the mainframe to new technologies has increased interest in mainframe programming with up-and-coming developers and operators. The technology now exists to automate many repetitive, manual, time-consuming tasks, allowing both experienced and new IT resources to focus on the areas where they add the most value. And, employees today crave continuous learning, recognizing that it is key to advancing in their careers.
All this might have led to a well-structured, in-house talent development scheme, but that would have been a very limited achievement in our view. What we really wanted was to support the mainframe community by ensuring a robust and sustainable mainframe ecosystem. So we pushed the conversation further. “In addition to our software, what if we could give our customers a trained resource to help run their mainframe? What if we could gift them an all-new mainframer designed specifically for their business — at no initial cost?” The answer to these questions was self-evident: “That would be great!”
In addition to our software, what if we could give our customers a trained resource to help run their mainframe? What if we could gift them an all-new mainframer designed specifically for their business – at no initial cost?
The revolutionary result is the Broadcom Mainframe Vitality Program. We share this model with you so that you can tap into it directly or replicate the concepts at your company. Working together, we can do more than bridge the mainframe skills gap — we can close it completely.
Cultivating Mainframe Vitality
The foundation of the Mainframe Vitality Program is our philosophy that businesses should hire to fit because skills can be learned. We, therefore, vet candidates for aptitude and suitability based on customer needs. We consider them as a whole person rather than just a collection of formal degrees. We do not limit ourselves to candidates with existing computer science degrees in IT, let alone mainframe. With the right intellect and aptitude, coupled alongside proper training, those skills can all be acquired.
We then take the long view. The Mainframe Vitality Program is not a five-day cram session or even a month-long course. It is a full-year apprenticeship, both in the classroom and on site with the customer. Here is the distinction: this apprenticeship is on our dime. We hire the trainees, called “residents,” and they pay nothing to us — instead, they get a paycheck from us. Once they complete our robust training, these resident software specialists are placed with our customers around the world in every major industry and among some of the most recognized and respected brands.
For the first six months or so, Vitality residents engage in a multi-dimensional learning journey. Courses include:
- Mainframe fundamentals, covering the spectrum of mainframe processing, programming concepts, and applications.
- Blended learning that combines learning soft skills (e.g., collaboration, agile project management) and technical skills (e.g., design thinking and user experience).
- Specific Broadcom product training, such as:
- Database product training to learn how to create database structures, maintain the environment, and analyze system performance.
- Security product training, addressing the product environment, how to perform configuration, and how to implement access control and setup security for member level protection, certificates, and pass tickets.
- Automation product training where residents are trained on solutions such as OPS/MVS® Event Management and Automation.
- DevOps product training, providing learning on how to implement the software change management lifecycle and manage post-implementation operations.
After completing these courses, a resident has garnered extensive knowledge and developed skills through hands-on experience in an immersive learning curriculum. But there is no substitute for real-world experience; that is why the Mainframe Vitality Program is designed as a partnership between Broadcom and our customers. For the second half of the program, the resident joins a customer’s team to receive one-on-one mentoring. With personal direction from the customer’s senior technicians, the opportunity to shadow mainframe experts, and the ability to engage in day-to-day activities on the mainframe, the resident learns the customer’s unique business environment and applications. After four to six months, the resident is qualified and ready to be hired by the customer in pursuit of a mainframe career.
Nicole Nwakalor, a Vitality resident, affirms, “The Mainframe Vitality Program gave me experience, education, connections, skills, and direction as well as a specific path toward career productivity ... I did not just gain programming skills on the mainframe but learned presentation skills, did engaging Agile workshops, and was exposed to the different fields of software engineering and the products of Broadcom. Everyone was very accessible and willing to assist me in boosting my career and establishing a healthy work-life balance.”
Creating a Sustainable Mainframe Ecosystem
The Mainframe Vitality Program is just one of a number of educational initiatives that we offer our customers and our employees at Broadcom. For example, our Mainframe Academy and Associate Software Engineer Program provide extensive education, in addition, our Mainframe eLearning Library and Online Training offer continuous skills development resources. We also participate in the Mainframe Open Education Project sponsored by Open Mainframe Project to donate content and offer basic mainframe foundation training. We have made these educational programs available to our customers at low to no cost, in the spirit of partnership, to ensure that businesses have the necessary skills to get the most out of their mainframe.
If you have felt the pressure of the mainframe skills gap, it is time to take action. You can either leverage Broadcom’s Vitality Program or create your own mainframe skills development initiative. If you choose the latter option, we encourage you to use our program as a model: hire to fit, take the long view, provide a multi-dimensional learning journey, and offer one-on-one mentoring. As we work together to invest in the next generation of mainframers, we will create a sustainable mainframe ecosystem that benefits literally every person worldwide.
I also invite you to check out an exclusive on-demand roundtable — “Outsmarting the Skilled Labor Shortage” — that features me and a distinguished panel of experts discussing strategies for protecting and growing your most valuable asset … your workforce.
Lauren Valenti is the director of education and customer engagement in Mainframe Software Division at Broadcom. Lauren’s team is focused on ensuring customers and partners understand the value of Broadcom Mainframe Solutions and have the right technical training and knowledge designed to acquire, maintain and improve their IT skills for the Mainframe. Since joining CA Technologies (now Broadcom) in 2000, Lauren has held various positions across support, marketing, and engineering.