IBM Opens Contest To Tackle Mainframe Skills Shortage

IBM opens its ‘Master the Mainframe’ contest to increase the global supply of skilled mainframe workers

IBM aims to tackle the mainframe skills shortage, after it expanded its Master the Mainframe Contest to include a new IBM Master the Mainframe World Championship competition.

The world championship competition is designed to assemble the best university students from around the globe, who have demonstrated superior technical skills through participation in their regional IBM Master the Mainframe contests.

Next Generation Skills

As part of IBM’s ongoing commitment to develop the skills of a new generation of mainframe experts, the competition will highlight the modern capabilities of the mainframe, designed to handle the big data, cloud, security and mobile computing workloads that are prevalent in modern enterprises.

gracehoppercobolmainframeOf the 20,000 students who have engaged in country-level Master the Mainframe Contests over the last three years, the top 44 students from 22 countries have been invited to participate in the inaugural IBM Master the Mainframe World Championship.

This group of students will spend the month of March working with what IBM refers to as the Systems of Engagement concept. They will deploy Systems of Record mainframe business applications written with Java and COBOL using DB2 for z/OS APIs, demonstrating how the Systems of Engagement concept takes full advantage of the platform’s capabilities. These students will showcase their applications on 7 April, 2014, in New York City, where a panel of judges will determine which student earns the distinction of “Master the Mainframe World Champion.”

Representing the United States are Mugdha Kadam from the University of Florida, Elton Cheng from the University of California, San Diego, and Rudolfs Dambis from the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Mainframe Future

“The Master the Mainframe Contest is a great way to get the millennial generation excited about enterprise computing,” Martin Kennedy, managing director, global enterprise systems at Citibank, said in a statement. “I’ve been following the contest for a number of years and have made successful hires from both IBM’s Master the Mainframe Contest as well as their System z Academic Initiative program. I envision a world championship such as this generating momentum in academia and making educators take a second look at the mainframe in enterprise computing.”

To kick off the World Championship, IBM has launched the Master the Mainframe World Championship Website. The site profiles each student and provides a leader board so fans can follow their favorite contestant, school and country. In addition to the contestant’s information, the Website highlights the judges, who represent a cross section of the IT industry, and who are participating in the 7 April final championship event.

“The Master the Mainframe Contest opened many doors for me,” Dontrell Harris, a previous Master the Mainframe contestant, said in a statement. “I was able to translate my knowledge of the mainframe and evolution of key computing workloads into a successful internship experience and hope to parlay those ‘in-demand’ skills into a career upon graduation.”

Since its 2005 inception, IBM’s Master the Mainframe Contest has enabled more than 68,000 students to learn sought-after computing skills. The competition is part of IBM’s strategy to help keep the mainframe relevant and to maintain a pool of workers with mainframe skills.

The zEnterprise mainframe can be found in virtually every industry, from banking and transportation to health care and government, where it provides enterprises with a secure platform to manage new and emerging workloads.

“IBM is committed to preparing ‘Generation z’ for the future of business,” Pat Toole, general manager of IBM System z, said in a statement. “Our ongoing collaboration with governments and academia in more than 70 countries to extend mainframe skills through our System z Academic Initiative helps ensure continuous mainframe innovations in areas such as cloud, mobile and big data for decades to come.”

IBM will be holding a special ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of the IBM mainframe on 8 April in New York City. IBM senior executives will be on hand for this milestone, discussing how the mainframe is powering future advancements in technology and the mainframe’s impact on industries like banking, transportation, health care and government.

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Originally published on eWeek.