Mainframe Skills Crunch Still Has CIOs Worried

Kachina Shaw
Slide Show

The Top Ten IT Skills for 2014

Every year to 18 months or so, the issue of dwindling mainframe skills within the enterprise IT professional community raises its head. And with every year that goes by, the issue gets a little more problematic, even though some are trying to advance training and development opportunities around mainframe management skills.

When vendor Compuware surveyed CIOs in 2011, it found that within that group, worry about the mainframe skill “shortage” was rampant; 71 percent of the CIOs were concerned about the issue. Eighty percent also said that mainframe outages were a major business risk.

Compuware has a new set of survey results on the topic, and things look, well, pretty similar.

New approaches to infrastructure and application management notwithstanding, a solid 81 percent of the 350 CIOs surveyed say the mainframe will be a key business asset for the next 10 years. However, they identify a number of threats to that expectation:


  • 55 percent claim their mainframe teams are finding it difficult to keep up with the fast changing demands of the business.
  • 66 percent fear that the impending retirement of the mainframe workforce will hurt their business by reducing their ability to support legacy applications.
  • 61 percent identified an increased application risk.
  • 61 percent identified a reduced productivity risk.
  • 56 percent identified an increase in project overruns risk.

In 2011, 46 percent of the surveyed CIOs said they were unprepared for the consequences of the skills shortage. In 2014, 40 percent are in the same position.

Summarizing the situation, Kris Manery, senior vice president and general manager, Mainframe Solutions Business Unit, Compuware, said:

"Mainframe applications have been updated and extended numerous times over the past 30 years, making them extremely complex to manage. While experienced mainframe developers are familiar with these systems, newer developers can take up to two years to get up-to-speed. As more experienced mainframe workers approach retirement age, businesses need to act quickly to address this pending skills shortage and make concrete plans for a pain free transition.”

As corporations find that many of their customer-facing, high-transaction applications are still best served by existing mainframe infrastructures, aligning retention of IT staff possessing the skills to manage them efficiently may start to pop up as an issue a little more frequently.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Feb 19, 2014 2:06 PM IT Recruitment Company IT Recruitment Company  says:
There’s a skills shortage across the entire IT industry and not just mainframe skills. Mainframe skills sets have expanded to include Java, Applications Servers and Business Process Management, Business Intelligence, z/VM and Linux, IDEs, Operations Automation, etc. Companies should plan for the future, including the replenishment of these critical IT skills. Reply
Feb 19, 2014 2:48 PM Darren Surch Darren Surch  says:
There is copious mainframe training available to the industry for internal mainframe training programs to train their own quality mainframe personnel. From the quality classroom and labs from IBM and IBM's 4 new GTPs, to Interskill Learning's comprehensive curriculum of over 250 online mainframe elearning courses. All of this is available worldwide and most of it at low cost. Time and time again though, mainframe corporations cut their training budgets and have their mainframe workforce "do without" training for another year. Let’s be honest here. Every person in the mainframe workforce that does NOT know all they need to know about the new z/OS V2.1 is potentially costing their organization, or actually costing their organization, time, money, efficiency, headaches and damage to their brand! Training is not something you want to skimp on, especially this year! Reply
Feb 21, 2014 1:19 AM hoapres hoapres  says:
I have been hearing the same old,old,REALLY VERY old, crisis due to impending retirements since I was in high school. Guess What ?? The shortage never arrived. Reply

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