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Mainframe Techies Are A Dying Breed

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the why-in-my-day dept.

Hardware 566

dipfan writes "Great piece in today's Financial Times on the surprising survival of mainframes - but the problem in the US is finding experienced techies to run them: "55 per cent were over 50, compared with fewer than 10 per cent of those with Unix or Windows NT server skills." Cobol programers, still needed for legacy applications, are mostly in their 40s. Help is on the way, though, thanks to IBM's use of Linux, which "freshens the labor pool" according to the article." (See also this earlier post on the mainframe-operator labor pool.)

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Employers' fault... (5, Insightful)

darken9999 (460645) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008852)

Maybe if employers wouldn't require every employee to have such mass amounts of experience, there would be a few younger admins around. You know, almost like a junior admin... "Well, he knows how to admin a system, so we can teach him the specifics."

I think being a mainframe admin would be a blast (maybe I just don't know better), but in my eight years of sysadmin work, I've never touched a mainframe. Every job posting I recall coming across required previous experience.

Re:Employers' fault... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008897)

That's the most communistic post I've read in a long while. Go back to China pinko!

Re:Employers' fault... (5, Informative)

TCaptain (115352) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008898)

Agreed, another major problem is that for many mainframe sysadmin type situation, that stuff just isn't taught in school anymore.

Our program mainly focused on C, C++ and assembler, with a smattering of COBOL and RPG. I spent the first few months learning this stuff when I got hired. Where I am now, we've just spent months interviewing people for junior positions and none of them even had THOSE basics.

Re:Employers' fault... (5, Interesting)

StandardDeviant (122674) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008990)

Exactly. It's also very much a chicken-and-egg problem to get into the mainframe world, becuase the barriers to entry are much higher from the standpoint of working on the technologies at home to get that all-important First Job. It's easy to build a $500 linux server or buy a $1000 used ultrasparc sun machine to learn some unix and unix coding on, but ... how are you going to learn mainframe stuff? Half of that stuff isn't even documented in the trade press (unless O'Reilly has come out with Mainframe Crap in a Nutshell or something and I just haven't noticed... heck, even the acronym set for that skill area is completely divergent from what most of the rest of the tech world uses. DASD anyone? IPL? MVS? JCL? RPG? OPA? XYZ?) The closest I've ever seen to being able to toy with that sort of thing at home would be something like Hercules [] or buying a used AS/400 off ebay for a few grand (which isn't a mainframe but a lot closer than a generibox linux server ;))

And even with trying to learn it at home, the production machines cost so much and are usually so business critical, you're going to have to really luck out to find a position where you'll ever even be allowed to touch the thing... On the flip side, I guess once you're in that world your job would be pretty stable, simply by virtue of the same barriers to entry in the field.

Or... (3, Interesting)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009025)

maybe we can learn it on our own!

Yeah, thats it! I'll just buy myself a mainframe and...oh wait.

The problem is that the only way to get mainframe experience today is to have access to one.

Who does?

Still, I think the closest thing we can get is playing with Linux from the ground up. As a Solaris user, I can say that a lot of the internals are the same. Except, of course, that all the non-gnu versions of software suck compared to their Linux equivalents.

In fact, when I think about it, the biggest problem is employer disbelief. Can you admin Mainframes if you can admin Linux boxes? Pretty close:
-You can know NFS,AFS, and Samba
-You can know Apache
-You can know X11
-You can know sendmail/postfix
-You can know telnet/ssh/rsh
-You can know how to install security updates

I could be wrong, but I think the stuff that you don't know beyond this boils down to quirks that are dependent upon the specific mainframe.

Unless, of course, you're talking about those really old mainframes that do less than my computers do (though they're more reliable), and serve only one very, very specific purpose. For those I should think it would be obvious why there aren't more people working on it. It's way too specialized. You want somebody that knows the accounting system for one bank on a VAX that was put there in 1975 and hasn't been changed since? Talk to the guy that wrote it. How will anyone else know?

in other news (3, Funny)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008856)

Demand for typewriter repairmen and milk delivery personnel is also on the decline.

Re:in other news (1)

Mr. McGibby (41471) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008964)

Demand is UP. RTFA. Not funny.

Re:in other news (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6009088)

shut up, choad-smoking fag.

sdfsg (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008859)

first dupe!

fpp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008860)


Re:fpp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008926)

Thanks mods. It seems like everytime I try to post troll or offtopic, I'm just ignored instead of beng properly modded down. You have restored my faith in moderation.

Re:fpp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6009006)


Candace Bailey (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008862)

While not a mainframe babe. I'd say she's got the frame of the main babe I wanna get with.

She's like, so hot. I watch Nick from 5-7 every night and spank it.

She's all like, more attainable than either of the Olson Twins. But, she's gonna go far!

Re:Candace Bailey (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008903)

From the Nick site...

Candace Bailey grew up in Pensacola, Florida, so it's no wonder she's into diving, jet-skiing and water-skiing. When she manages to get onto dry land, she loves gymnastics and dance. In fact, she danced with the Kaleidoscope Ballet company for eight years, and when she was 13, she was a Junior Olympic gymnast. Now Candace lives in New York City, where she studies acting and voice. She has appeared on "The Sopranos," and the daytime drama "As The World Turns." Her newest hobby is playing practical jokes on her co-host Brent.

Re:Candace Bailey (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008924)

Thanks dude, for posting this. I can't navigate the Nick site while at work. Too much Jazz on the screen.

Do you wanna pull my pud to her?

Re:Candace Bailey (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6009041)

You've been had. She's obviously at least 18. But on the show, they would have you believe she's just another 10 yr old hottie (just like they did with O Twins even after they lost their lisps and became teenagers.)

We're supposed to pay for THIS? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008867)

Once again, this is a duplicate story. This was covered only a week ago here [] .

Troll 127 of 211 from the annals of the Troll Library [] .

Re:We're supposed to pay for THIS? (-1, Flamebait)

tbone1 (309237) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008884)

Yes, we are supposed to pay for this. Apparently slashdot is using the RIAA's business model.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008868)


IBM may be 'freshening' the pool... (-1, Offtopic)

DNAspark99 (218197) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008869)

...but SCO keeps taking dumps in it...

so, no, that is NOT a floating oh-henry bar.

We should take immediate action (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008872)

Find the remaining Maimframe Techies and lock them in to zoos. Females will be extra rare, so we'll have to rotate them around for breeding to build up the population. It's time to end the slaughter of Mainframe Techies.

Mainframe development work (3, Insightful)

mschoolbus (627182) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008877)

The company that I work for has an abundance of Mainframe developers who are mostly unstaffed. There are all these rumors going around about Mainframe tasks coming up, but they all seem to go away... If anything it seems the other way around to me.

Re:Mainframe development work (4, Interesting)

Brummund (447393) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009103)

Most of my income these days come from integrating various mainframe-based systems with new applications. Many industries are very reluctant to throw out working systems (well, doh) , and especially now, when we're in a recession, they'd rather spend some money on integration than investing a lot of money in new infrastructure.

Also, the long lifetime of the mainframes means there's an abundance of various applications that depends on them in all departmens of an organisation that use mainframes. Changing, (heck, even finding those applications :-), is a pain and expensive.

Also, much of the infrastructure in the airline, train and other similar industries are based on mainframes, and they won't switch anytime soon, since it would require massive investments and many, many rounds trying to get all the involved partnes to agree on a common platform.

So, that there is money to earn on mainframe platform is not surprising, but, at least from my view, most of it will be maintainance/integration.

Mainframe operation 101 (4, Funny)

Space Coyote (413320) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008885)

"Come on, Emma"

*hit with broom*

That's all you need to know.

*BSD is dying (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008888)

It is official; Netcraft confirms: *BSD is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *BSD community when IDC confirmed that *BSD market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *BSD has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *BSD is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [] to predict *BSD's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *BSD faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *BSD because *BSD is dying. Things are looking very bad for *BSD. As many of us are already aware, *BSD continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

FreeBSD is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeBSD developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeBSD is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

OpenBSD leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenBSD. How many users of NetBSD are there? Let's see. The number of OpenBSD versus NetBSD posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetBSD users. BSD/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetBSD posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of BSD/OS. A recent article put FreeBSD at about 80 percent of the *BSD market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeBSD users. This is consistent with the number of FreeBSD Usenet posts.

Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeBSD went out of business and was taken over by BSDI who sell another troubled OS. Now BSDI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that *BSD has steadily declined in market share. *BSD is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *BSD is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *BSD continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *BSD is dead.

Fact: *BSD is dying

So? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008889)

That show sucked anyways. AND IT WAS CANADIAN!

Uhh.. (1)

iONiUM (530420) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008895)

but the problem in the US is finding experienced techies to run them

It's a shame this isn't a problem in all areas of the technology field =/.

A question... (3, Funny)

zutroy (542820) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008900)

What the hell is a "mainframe"?

Re:A question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008950)

>What the hell is a "mainframe"?

Re:A question... (3, Funny)

phorm (591458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008960)

Joke or serious question?

A very large "computer" (some are more comparable nowadays to an advanced calculator) to which remote terminals connect in order to function. In short, big ugly was-once-super-powerful computer that is the master of a network or portion thereof.

Look for something like a big box with lots of wires, maybe some tapes attached, a little rust on the side, and a weeping IT admin beside it.

Re:A question... (1)

zutroy (542820) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008978)

Joke. But thanks anyway.

Re:A question... An answer! (0, Offtopic)

override11 (516715) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009016)

This question is most easily answered by going here: []
Look over your shoulder when opening this one at work. :) Funny stuff, hehe.

Huh? Stuffing FUD in there or what? (5, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008913)

"55 per cent were over 50, compared with fewer than 10 per cent of those with Unix or Windows NT server skills." Cobol programers, still needed for legacy applications, are mostly in their 40s. Help is on the way, though, thanks to IBM's use of Linux, which "freshens the labor pool" according to the article."

How does linux freshen the mainframe labor pool, and not the Unix/Windows NT pool?

Linux ain't System/36 or MPE or any other mainframe OS. And show me one linux app that's written in COBOL. (The language exists, but I've never seen it put to use).

This is a self correcting problem. A good admin/coder can pick up mainframe stuff when he needs to. All the 50+ year olds are still working the jobs they got when they were 30. When they die off/retire, younger folks will pick it up.

I mean, hell, I picked up enough about MPE and FORTRAN and COBOL to do my job inside of a week. And I got competent with S/36 and RPG at my last job.

It aint rocket science. It's like a skilled machinist learning to shoe horses.

Re:Huh? Stuffing FUD in there or what? (5, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009005)

This more a symptom of employers concentrating on specific experience more than talented personnel. A fundamental skill that the vast majority of IS professionals have is the ability to LEARN and ADAPT. Unfortunately there's no buzzword that can signify this on a resume, so it gets ignored.

Re:Huh? Stuffing FUD in there or what? (4, Informative)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009014)

And when they decide to pay those mainframe devs with real money, some of us kids might be a little more interested in learning. I know a few guys with a ton of mainframe experience... they keep getting shuffled between giant companies, with pay cuts every time. Screw that.

COBOL on Linux (3, Informative)

Mark Hanson (26428) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009085)

Linux ain't System/36 or MPE or any other mainframe OS. And show me one linux app that's written in COBOL.

Shameless plug: Acucorp, Inc. [] makes COBOL development/runtime systems that run on pretty much any UNIX-like system, including Linux. We have lots of customers running on Linux from plain old PCs on up to the IBM S/390.

We had a booth at a recent LinuxWorld. Lots of people would walk by, do a double-take, and ask us, "COBOL on Linux?" Yep, believe it!

Re:Huh? Stuffing FUD in there or what? (1)

bousozoku (578692) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009087)

IBM System/36 has SSP as its operating system, not S/36, and it's hardly a mainframe--it's a mini computer. COBOL programmers are certainly out there and aging, but many of them made small fortunes during the Y2K craze, correcting the mistakes they originally coded. RPG/II and RPG/III programmers are in similar situations. Their operations counterparts are much better off. I would hope that the money of the world would not be trusted to anything else but these two languages (RPG and COBOL) since most programming languages only feature real/floating point numbers which innately have rounding errors. A banking system using C, C++, Objective-C, Java would be worthless outside the classroom as there's always a strong possibility that the numbers are all wrong.

Re:Huh? Stuffing FUD in there or what? (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009115)

Well in the case of MPE it is dying and being replaced by HP-UX and if you know Linux you can get up to speed on HP-UX in short order. So at least in one market it does in fact refresh the labor pool. I'm thinking IBM is moving the same way away from whatever OS/Language they use and towards Linux. So yea this does in fact make sense

Re:Huh? Stuffing FUD in there or what? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009168)

A good admin/coder can pick up mainframe stuff when he needs to.

Yeah, sure, I've got spare Big Iron laying around my basement, some day I'll fire it up and learn how to run it....

Yeah, right.

I'm sure I could pick it up in a flash. Too bad that employers don't want someone who can pick it up in a flash, they want someone with at least several years experience. Most of these positions I've seen in the local paper are for Senior Admin positions, where they want a lifetime of experience running these things.

Because of the economy, assistant admin positions are rare. Companies want to find one guy capable of doing the work, alone, so low-experience junior admins are a thing of the past. The old-school style of passing knowledge down from generation to generation is gone, since a new hire generally starts after the previous hire has retired/quit/been fired. (Been there, done that, the "documentation" typically left behind is usually pretty shoddy, since the author doesn't care... they're not working there anymore by the time it gets read)

Re:Huh? Stuffing FUD in there or what? (1)

Cyno (85911) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009171)

The learning curve to become a mainframe expert from a linux expert is probably going to be a lot less than that of an NT admin. A lot of the concepts should be very similar.

An advantage of COBOL (1)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008916)

It is a lot easier to follow someone elses code. Could this be because it does not have to be Object Oriented?
Shopping lists are sequential and designed that way because that is a logical way to do things. Can someone design me an OO shopping list? It has to be as easy to use as the old fashioned one!

Re:An advantage of COBOL (1)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009051)

COBOL was designed IIRC so that non-programmers could understand it.

Re:An advantage of COBOL (1)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009071)

public interface ShoppingList {
void addItem(Item i);
void print();

Hope that helped! :-)

Re:An advantage of COBOL (1)

no reason to be here (218628) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009105)

One could say that the grocery store itself is object oriented. The different aisles are the different objects, like merchandise being arranged with other like merchandise and such.
Of course, a grocery store metaphor doesn't really work in this situation. Going shopping is more like running queries on a database, to my mind.


Re:An advantage of COBOL (1)

bobKali (240342) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009108)

And you have obviously never tried to make changes to 40 year old, multalated, goto-infested, they-only-put-periods-in-where-they-were-required swine-code. Not to mention the small inconsistancies between differing flavors of COBOL that can really bite you when you change compilers.

Well written code is more a function of the programmer than the language. I've even seen easy-to-read Perl (believe it or not.) I do wish more languages had 88-levels and redefines though.

No place to experience/learn (4, Interesting)

Build6 (164888) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008918)

You know, I personally wouldn't mind learning Cobol, but I've got no place to "use" it on and develop anything that I'd find useful and therefore no way to both really "learn" it (gotta do an actual non-trivial project to really learn a language, no?) nor any reason to learn it "for" ("to possibly get a job" is no good).

And I personally wouldn't mind learning how to use a mainframe-type thing, but where am I going to find my own mainframe to muck about with? Everybody's got (or can get access to) a linux box to "learn Unix" on. Where on earth am I going to find an S/390? Try and get ahold of an Itanium with OpenVMS (which isn't really "mainframe" mainframe, is it?)?

Re:No place to experience/learn (4, Informative)

eli173 (125690) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008980)

Everybody's got (or can get access to) a linux box to "learn Unix" on. Where on earth am I going to find an S/390?

Maybe you should look here [] .
(It's an emulator for the ESA/390, etc.)


Re:No place to experience/learn (1, Redundant)

Mwongozi (176765) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008986)

Where on earth am I going to find an S/390?

Right here []

Re:No place to experience/learn (1)

Build6 (164888) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009169)


Emulation is fine (and conmicro is indeed the number 1 link when I google for "S/390 emulator") but I kinda feel emulation doesn't "do" it the way an actual, physical box does, that, you know, I can go up to and run my hands all over, feeling the smooth, cold metal underneath my palms while I gently caress.... erm, ok, where was I :-)

(Yes, I am joking. Honest.)

ANYWAYS, what I want to say is, emulation doesn't give the same feel to it as a real box. Linux under VMWare doesn't give me the same kind of compulsion to explore and learn something the way installing it onto a real machine where I muck about with the bootloader, screw up my partitions, reinstall, hack about, run X11/KDE/etc.; the point about emulators (for me anyway) is that you launch them to "do" something, in which case without any kind of directed (classroom?) course I wouldn't want to boot up an emulated "mainframe", because, what would I do with it? learn the equivalent of "ls", "pwd" ... and then? Whereas if there was a real box sitting there, it just... calls out to you to go tinker with it, no?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's psychological.

For me anyways.

Re:No place to experience/learn (2, Funny)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008991)

I actually have an old IBM system 38 at one of the buildings that my company owns. It's still there because we can't get it out without destroying the building. I'll let it go cheap :)

Re:No place to experience/learn (1)

hendridm (302246) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009138)

Agreed, I graduated 2 years ago and found that many of the tech jobs wanted RPG programming or JD Edwards experience. Where the fsck am I supposed to pick that up?! I'm willing to learn whatever it takes, but there are only so many things I can do. I can buy degrees and certificates, but I can't buy experience!

Re:No place to experience/learn (1)

LumpyCartman (539950) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009156)

HP has this [] site where you can test out different OSs on different hardware platforms

Re:No place to experience/learn (2, Informative)

ocelotbob (173602) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009159)

Actually, you've just got to look around a bit. Do like you learn any other programming language, pick up a cobol book. Got one myself on the bookshelf. Both windows and Linux have Cobol compilers available, google for them and you'll find dozens of hits, including some open source versions.

As far as finding an S/390 to work on, I'll admit it's hard to find the actual iron to bang on, but there's a damn good emulator for it. [] For learning OpenVMS, you don't have to use an Itanium; you can pick up an old VAX or Alpha for next to nothing off of ebay or the local surpluss place. Hell, if you don't want to get physical hardware, you can always emulate it [] ; won't be fast, but it'll teach you the basics. And VMS-based systems are all over the board as far as their size goes. A single processor Alpha or VAX is very much a micro. A system or cluster with a dozen or so procs is getting into the midrange area, and the really big iron, like the VAX 7000, can ease into the high-end server/mainframe range when using VMS's built in insanely reliable clustering. Yeah, it'll be tough discovering a truly non-trivial project, but hey, that's part of learning.

so what? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008922)

heterosexual slashdot janitors are a dying breed as well, but you don't hear them complaining.

So, the admins are old. (5, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008930)

What's the problem, here? If the 50-year-old programmer is the only one who knows jack about mainframes, hire the 50-year-old programmer. Don't whine about not having enough qualified programmers, when what you really want is just-out-of-college programmers that you can bully into working for you at half the salary of someone with real experience.

Re:So, the admins are old. (1)

yroJJory (559141) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008955)

I think the general idea is that the 50-something programmer will most likely wish to retire soon. And that there may be a glut in the mainframe sysadmin market.

Re:So, the admins are old. (2, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009147)

I think the general idea is that the 50-something programmer will most likely wish to retire soon.

I'm old enough to remember when companies kept their employees on long enough to offer them retirement plans. . . and I'm only 28. So if the 50-something wants to retire "soon"--which is probably on the order of 10-15 years--that still gives you several years where you'll have his expertise available not only to do the job but to train newer and younger programmers as well. There's really no good reason not to hire a 50-something, from a long-term economic standpoint; but then, no one's accused American companies of being able to see beyond the next fiscal quarter.

Low pay (3, Informative)

yroJJory (559141) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008931)

Well, at $14/hr [] I can hardly blame IT guys for not bothering to learn how to SysAdmin a mainframe!

Re:Low pay (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009057)

$14/hr is the current market value. Go read this [] if you do not believe me. More specifically read this [] page here for IT labor. Don't you love shareholders and lobbiest from Bigcorp?

training? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008932)

So, what is the problem with hiring people with relaed experience and training them up on mainframes, assuming they don't mind pidgeon holing their careers? Training someone shouldn't be that hard, no? If no-one is going to train people in niche technologies isn't it obvious that there will be a shortage?

Finally an IT field that is NOT over populated (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008935)

Good thing I know Cobol and the big iron, and am still only in my late 30's..

I must be unique, but employable when times get worse then they are now..

"now accepting job offers" :)

main frame techies (3, Insightful) (664381) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008937)

I know a main frames adminstrator . Depending on what you mean by main frames , the newer unix based ones I wouldnt mind adminstering . The problem is that there are a whole wack of old crappy mainframes which are running legacy applications that very few people understanding sitting around . Now if there was somewhere to actually learn about how to handel those I would probably take the course ; but as it stands now most info systems degrees dont deel much with legacy applications . Maybe a college degree in legacy code / computing in addition to a BSC would be interesting (of course colleges would have to higher old qualified people) . An alternative would be "just read the manual" ; however if I "just read the manual" most places wont consider me comptenet (nor should they there are tones of undocumented "features") . What is really needed (if we are going to keep on using this legacy systems without relapcing them) is for a tech publisher to gather up a bunch of mainframe adminstrators and document all the undocument features in the older generation (and newer ones as well) of mainframes .

Not too surprising really (2, Flamebait)

Jack Wagner (444727) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008938)

I've done a smattering amoung of work on mainframes and I always find it quite refreshing for myriad reasons. First and foremost I can charge premium bucks since it's all about supply and demand. Secondly, it's always a pleasure to get to work on a real computer since most of my work these days is spent on that heinous X86 scrap that society seems to think passes for computers these days.

Lets face it, working on a FreeBSD box after working on an old mainframe is like driving a VW bug with flowers all over it after driving a boss 69 camereo.

And finally since the skillset to work on these is above and beyond that which your average windows admin/coder has, I am fairly secure in my knowledge that I have job security.

It's like Rick Brooks said in the Mythical Man Month, if you are in the upper 5% of computer scientists you will always be employed making in the upper 1% wage group.

Warmest regards,

Re:Not too surprising really (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008999)

I believe that you mean Fred Brooks. Unless he has a brother named Rick that wrote an identically titled book.

Re:Not too surprising really; What if? (0)

cashisking (646284) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009102)

What if someone had an extra million and a half US$ lying around, and decided to pick up a T-Rex, just to train a team of mainframers? How much time are we talking about? My only experience with a mainframe came at BMC, where I was used to help a group of mainframers connect up to the Big Iron through a PC running Japanese OS/2. Loved that green screen.

Re:Not too surprising really (1)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009124)

And finally since the skillset to work on these is above and beyond that which your average windows admin/coder has, I am fairly secure in my knowledge that I have job security.

Having more skills than an average Windows admin/coder doesn't sound like a very hard thing to me :o) It takes about 15 minutes to get comfortable with WSH and active directory, and a further 10 minutes to install cygwin so that you can get some real work done.

In the near future I would expect that traditional mainframes will (slowly) be replaced by distributed computing for batch jobs - and as such the skilled jobs won't be for people with mainframe backgrounds but rather those with distributed computing skills. After all, your company probably already has a couple of billion FLOPS going to waste and that could be put to good use _without_ the problems that come attached to a supercomputer (the price tag for one and incrimental ugrades for another). For real time computing mainframes were always a bit ropey anyway, and so those jobs will probably continue moving to BFO UNIX boxes. Until cetralised computing comes back into fashion again of course...

Re:Not too surprising really (1)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009175)

Lets face it, working on a FreeBSD box after working on an old mainframe is like driving a VW bug with flowers all over it after driving a boss 69 camereo.

Except that the VW bug, while it still looks tiny on the outside, has as much room as a doublewide trailer on the inside -- and someone replaced the air-cooled four-banger with a J-2 rocket engine. There are still no seat-belts.

Let me get this right... (3, Funny)

tamnir (230394) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008951)

I have learnt Basic, Turbo Pascal, C, C++, Perl, Java, Python, Ruby and what not... But noooooo! Today, you must know Cobol to get a job!

Darn, I was just starting to get working on my Fortran...

Re:Let me get this right... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6009054)

> I have learnt Basic, Turbo Pascal, C, C++, Perl, Java, Python, Ruby and what not... But noooooo! Today, you must know Cobol to get a job!

Maybe it was the edumacation section of your resume that costed you the jobs...

Bullshit. (0, Flamebait)

Bowie J. Poag (16898) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008959)

Got 7 flavors of Unix under my belt, mainfraime experience both from the administration end as well as the programmer end, plenty of certs.

I'm right here. You can hire me today instead of paying for Long Duck Dong to hop on a boat.

Re:Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008976)

du0d no offense, but having read a lot of your comments the reason you are having trouble getting work is you have an atrocious attitude. you really need to work on your people skills. really. seriously. you have a problem.

Re:Bullshit. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6009079)

Ahhhh, you must be the guy who's unpopular with the ladies - short duck dong.

Legacy (5, Interesting)

Root Down (208740) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008970)

The word "legacy" keeps popping up in correlation with mainframes, and this is really why most of them are still around - legacy code that no one wants to re-do for other systems. However, new applications are typically being written for scalable, multi-component architectures, not mainframes.
The reasons for keeping the legacy systems are obvious: cost of conversion, proven correctness, etc. However, I still think the scalability and reliability (e.g.: redundancy, resource pooling, load balancing, etc.) of NoW (Networks of Workstations) will in time push both the mainframe and nearly anachronistic programming language Cobol out the door. It's a simple matter of economics: it costs less to design, construct, implement, maintain and re-tool the different components of a distributed system as opposed to that of a mainframe.

Culler [] 's paper on NoW is a classic.

FYI incaseof /. fx (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008979)

Once, pundits predicted that the mainframe computer was a dinosaur heading for extinction. These huge classics of the corporate computing world were reaching the end of the line and would give way to the new generation of server-based systems.

History proved them wrong. But although mainframes are surviving, the same cannot be said of the information technology workers who run them. And as this trend accelerates, a crisis is looming for the many companies and government departments that continue to rely on mainframes for critical operations.

Last week, International Business Machines launched its most powerful mainframe, code-named T-Rex, packed with the latest technologies and amply demonstrating that the mainframe remains a formidable IT system. T-Rex is three times more powerful than any other IBM mainframe and iswell capable of carrying the type of workloads that e-business requires.

In fact, the mainframe seems to be undergoing a resurgence as customers rediscover its reliability, security and adaptability. Compared with servers, the mainframe holds its own on measures such as speed, or the number of transactions per second. And it requires fewer people to operate a mainframe - an important issue, as labour costs continue to grow as the largest element of IT budgets.

But IT workers with mainframe experience are getting older. A study by the Meta Group last year found that 55 per cent were over 50, compared with fewer than 10 per cent of those with Unix or Windows NT server skills.

In fact, younger IT workers have shunned the mainframe world over the past few years, preferring to hone their skills in internet- related areas of web services and programming languages such as C and Java, rather than Cobol, the mainframe standard.

Nadav Aharonov, senior programmer at the University of San Francisco, is typical of mainframe programmers in that he is skilled in the Cobol programming language and is over 50. Almost everyone on his team of eight programmers is more than 50 years old and one is retiring this year at 62.

"We still have a lot of legacy applications written in Cobol that we have to maintain; and so we are often looking to hire Cobol programmers," says Mr Aharonov. He says most of the Cobol programmers the universities hire are well into their forties, or older. The generational difference is most apparent when compared with the university's network and web server programming teams.

"Those guys are mostly in their mid-twenties; we are the old fogeys," Mr Aharonov jokes.

The university has no plans to put its mainframe out to pasture, in spite of the growing problem of finding programmers.

This is typical, says Diane Morello, senior analyst at Gartner, a leading IT research and consultancy business. "Very few companies have done the risk assessment they need to do, to work out a plan of when they retire a technology platform," she says.

Ms Morello advises companies on their IT skill set and related issues. And despite the dwindling pool of mainframe IT workers, she says, many companies are not facing up to hard decisions.

Most affected by these issues are financial services, telecommunications and government, all heavy mainframe users. Ms Morello says putting off the hard decisions can be risky, resulting in high retraining costs to keep the mainframe running or serious disruptions to critical business processes. But moving off the mainframe is not easy and requires long-term planning, she says. Companies would have to rewrite critical business applications, test and debug those applications and make sure they have the skills to support the new systems.

General Mills, the US food giant, decided to do just that. Concerned about the dwindling mainframe IT talent pool, it decided to pull the plug on its Amdahl mainframe by the end of this year, in favour of three Hewlett-Packard Super- domes, high-end Unix server systems.

As head of IBM's computer hardware business group, Bill Zeitler should be worried about other large companies following General Mills, and the implications of the ageing mainframe workforce on his future mainframe sales.

"About three years ago, we were concerned about this issue of IT skills," he says.

"But we have managed to keep the mainframe platform vital, which is the best thing we could do in ensuring a future for the mainframe."

He adds that General Mills is a "reference customer" of HP's, implying that it was able to cut deals to make the shift off the mainframe more enticing. And, with an estimated 60 per cent of US corporate data residing in mainframes, he is confident that the shift from the platform is likely to be glacial.

Also, the T-Rex mainframe will be used by some customers to replace several mainframes with just one system, thus helping to reduce the number of mainframe administrators needed. IBM's championing of the "open source" Linux operating system on the mainframe has also made IT skills less vital.

"IBM has done a lot to promote the use of Linux on the mainframe in universities, which has been a very clever move, because it means that there are young IT professionals coming into the workforce that already have some experience on a mainframe," says Charles King, research director at Sageza Group, a US IT research company.

This helps freshen the labour pool not only for IBM's mainframe customers but also for IBM itself, which is the world's largest user of mainframes. It will be the biggest customer for its own T-Rex mainframes. As the world's largest IT outsourcing company, it operates hundreds of mainframes in data centres around the world, for thousands of companies. This also means that mainframe users could outsource their operations to IBM and let Big Blue provide the IT skills required.

But outsourcing means some loss of control; and for some companies the greying of their mainframe programmers will mean consigning the computers they service to history.

Machine tuition in the complexities of polite conversation

Xeros Corporation's Palo Alto Research Centre (Parc) was the hotbed of innovation that in the early 1970s developed many of the concepts of modern computing - including personal computers, bit-mapped displays, graphical user interfaces and laser printers.

But Parc's whiz-kids soon realised that they lacked a way to shuttle data between their new-fangled machines.

Robert Metcalfe, a twenty-something computer buff recently hired from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was charged with finding a solution. His answer was to run a single loop of coaxial cable between the laboratory's computers and printers and then design a set of simple rules to enable them to share it without talking over each other.

The first rule was "carrier sense". Like guests at a polite dinner party, the computers were told to listen for a break in the electronic chatter before broadcasting their own messages.

The second rule was "multiple access": all computers had equal rights to converse, with no pecking order or priority.

Third, if more than one computer started talking at the same instant, both would detect the collision, back off and try again after a random interval.

This CSMA/CD (Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection) protocol, combined with a standard format for addressing messages, was dubbed Ethernet.

Many computer scientists at first distrusted Ethernet. The inevitable collisions between messages meant there was no certainty about when a message would arrive - or whether it would get through at all, if the cable was clogged with garrulous computers.

Rival engineers outside Parc came up with "deterministic" alternatives using elaborate mechanisms to ensure that important data would get through.

However, while Ethernet looked uncertain on paper, it worked.

"Some of the most interesting technologies are those that work statistically, not deterministically," says Stephen Squires, chief science officer at Hewlett-Packard, the computer group.

Today's high-speed Ethernet networks are distant relatives of the original Parc system. Coaxial cable was long ago replaced by twisted copper wires or optical fibre. This makes it possible for computers to send and receive messages simultaneously, eliminating the need for collision detection.

The idea of connecting computers to a single loop, known as a "bus", has also been largely abandoned in favour of wires radiating from central hubs. The switches that sit at these hubs are able to prioritise certain messages, making network access less democratic than Mr Metcalfe intended.

Still, the lineage from his original design is direct. Moreover, his original protocols are making a comeback. The 802.11 standard for wireless data transmission in cludes carrier sense, multiple access and collision detection to encourage polite conversation over the air waves.

Heavily Sarcastic reasoning for this (2, Funny)

Elpacoloco (69306) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008981)

Us younger people don't have mainframes to play with. I'm 22 and I have never ever seen a mainframe. Anywhere. I don't even know what kind of software or operating system they have. Other than they might have a cobol compiler.

I can code cobol. But I'd rather gouge out my eyes with a sharp stick.

Re:Heavily Sarcastic reasoning for this (1)

Daniel Boisvert (143499) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009084)

They look like this. []

--except you mostly see them through small wire-reinforced windows on doors with keypads or biometric locks on them... :)

Re:Heavily Sarcastic reasoning for this (2, Funny)

repetty (260322) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009135)

"I'm 22 and I have never ever seen a mainframe."

I think you just made an insightful observation.

At 22 you ain't done shit yet.


Re:Heavily Sarcastic reasoning for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6009170)

I'm 21, been a mainframe operator since high school graduation. since I was hired, everyone after me all had degrees or were 90% finished with degrees, all in their 20's

its about knowing people, or finding the right place.

Mainframe Techies Are A Dying Breed (1)

Gibble (514795) | more than 11 years ago | (#6008993)

Mainframe Techies Are A Dying Breed...Damn SARS

Sys Admin Reduction Syndrome

Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6008996)

Hum... is slashdot into predicting the future now? 2 months ago [] there was a shortage on the horizon, now there is one!

Not a dupe, dope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6009089)

*Bzzzt* wrong ... RTFA.

Hire from Canadian Colleges (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009004)

Well, perhaps more particularly in BC, or the one I graduated from... they have 2 semesters with COBOL and VAX courses. I found them completely useless, but hey I was good at it so anyone wanted to hire a COBOL coder for $50-$100/h, feel free to call me, or try and find some of our cheaper students by dropping in the local college.

Re:Hire from Canadian Colleges (1)

Networkink*Man (468175) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009162)

I too, had 2 semesters of COBOL / CICS worked into my Information Systems degree.

I thought it was a bunch of hooey ... until I walked into a Fifth-Third bank branch and a bunch of their teller-terminals had a familiar CICS-looking screen.

Hmm - :)

Nice 'Mainframe' picture. (1)

bockris (104545) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009009)

Any one notice the picture of the Earth [] Simulator [] at the top of the article.

This is a Dupe (-1, Redundant)

coolmacdude (640605) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009017)

Same story was posted a month or two ago.

Not a dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6009123)

Totally different subject matter d00d - RTFA before engaging mouth.

Oh yeah, there was an article about Linux a couple of months ago too - lotta dupes since then, cowboy?

It has to be said. (1)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009022)

It is official; Netcraft now confirms: Mainframe techies are dying.

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered Mainframe techie community when Slashdot confirmed that Mainframe techies are aging beasts. Mainframe techie share has dropped yet again while the 20-somethings make up a large percentage of the mainframe techie target market. Mainframe techies are collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in recent Viagra and fitness tests.

You don't need to be a Kreskin [] to predict a mainframe techie's future. The hand writing is on the wall: mainframe techies face a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for mainframe techies because mainframe techies are dying. Things are looking very bad for mainframe techies. Their offices are dark, the tomb-like sepulchral atmosphere is all that remains. Mainframe techies continues to lose numbers as they die of old age.

Obituary ink flows like a river of blood.

All major surveys show that mainframe techies have steadily declined in population. Mainframe techies are very sick and their long term survival prospects are very dim. If Mainframe techies are to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers and hangers-on. Mainframe techies continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save them at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Mainframes and their techies are dead.

Fact: Mainframe techies are dying

Dupe / Similar article... (1, Redundant)

Chicane-UK (455253) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009028)

Thought this sounded familiar.

Same / similar story on Slashdot a few months ago : 9&mode=thread&tid=126 []

Re:Dupe / Similar article... (1)

Chicane-UK (455253) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009058)

And in other news, I am fucking blind.

Excuse me whilst I go and get my eyes tested.

Yeah right ... (2, Insightful)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009034)

At my school [] for the undergrad degree plan of "Computer Science Business" you _HAVE_ to learn COBOL. I hated every minute of it because it's a pain in the ass and antiquated and outdated. We have an entire department [] dedicated to the maintenance of IBM MVS 390 systems that basically run the entire school. Everything from registration to classes to payroll is handled through a slew of cobol programs and frontends all designed almost 20 years ago.

Basically the "Computer Science Business" degree plan is designed to make cobol monkeys for either the school, statefarm, kraft, or caterpillar who still rely heavily on cobol for day-to-day operations. What's the catch? In less than 10 years all the formentioned companies will be converted to either a .NET or Java platform to control all their operations. COBOL's last major reworking was done 18 years ago, it's time to switch to something new.

I hate cobol and I always will, if I ever see an VSAM or coding paragraph again I'll probably freak. I'd rather work at McDonalds than be a COBOL monkey. I don't think I'm alone with my views either, as this article proves. These systems are old, prone to crashes, and not supported by level one support anywhere. They have heavy maitenance price tags and it's for this reason that it is more economical for these companies to completely rewrite their systems. IBM Running on Linux will NOT save COBOL, it's a dead language, just some people still speak it.

Death to cobol you worthless language.

Memories (2, Interesting)

Infernon (460398) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009039)

My entry into the IT world started at the fresh age of nineteen as the third shift operator for a Wang VS mainframe. While my previous experience was only with the Windows OS, the company that I worked for was very willing to hire someone who was green as long as they were willing to learn.
When the WANG died (Y2K!), they moved the application over to the Win32 side of things, but I was transferred to work with the IBM MVS mainframe that was used for another portion of the business. I still understand very little about the job that I did (mainly due to the ease of use that the Beta42 scheduled provided!), but remember hearing of how people that knew or were willing to learn the ins and outs of the mainframe were so few and far between. Eventually, I moved on to bigger and better things, but the mainframe still lives to this day and I've heard that they're having trouble finding decent operators:)

Aerospace is seeing this... (2, Interesting)

Misch (158807) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009043)

Aerospace is seeing this too. With the loss of a second Space Shuttle, there's a lot of push to have the US go back to rocket-based space travel. Well, what they forget is that we've lost a lot of that rocketry talent over the years to retirement/old age/death/whatnot... it would be pretty expensive to make the transition back.

We are not dead, we just (4, Insightful)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009046)

moved into more lucrative positions. Match my current salary and I'll go back to hexdump processing, IMS MTO, CICS batch, MVS/TSO, JES3/2, VM, REXX, DOS/VSE you name it. I've been a mainframe/mid-range support in nearly every environment around, I can even roll a VTAM sub-area :)
But M$ exchange cluster design and management pays MUCH better.

Help Wanted (5, Funny)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009049)

Mainframe? Pah!

Mainframe Techies are a dime a dozen--the real challenge is finding competent PDP8/E techies these days!

Plunk your modern so-called "computer whiz" in front of one, and their first reaction is invariably one of the following:

  1. "Why are there so many power switches?"
  2. "Where's the keyboard?"
  3. "Where's the monitor?"
  4. "Where's the mouse?"
  5. "Why does it sound like it's about to generate lift?"
  6. "Does it support themes?"
  7. "Let's see...'HCF' instruction? Hwa? Oh, I get it--Hardware ConFiguration!" *click* AIEEEEEEEEE!
  8. "'Switch Register'? Sorry, I never register anything. It's a government ploy to learn my phone number and address!"

"mostly in their 40s" -- oh no! (4, Insightful)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009081)

Cobol programers, still needed for legacy applications, are mostly in their 40s.

Oh no! People in their 40s will only want to remain in the work force for another 20 years or so. What will the companies do then? Train people? Not in the U.S.! All employees must be hired with all needed skills. We wouldn't want to spend money training them because that investment would be wasted when we laid them off and shipped their job over to India.

Nobody gets upset that most CEOs are in their 50s. No one is concerned that corporate attorneys are usually over 40. You don't see a panic because the average charter boat captain is in his 40s.

Working in the computer field is like living the movie Logan's Run [] . Once you are out of your twenties, everyone from management to your fellow tech workers thinks your time is over.

Or is it simpler than that? Maybe companies realize that they can underpay and overwork young, naive, single people but that people in their 40's with experience, families, and responsibilities will expect fair pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Europe (1)

boskonijn (565659) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009107)

I am in my mid 20's and back when I was in college we had 3 years of Cobol, some Fortran 77 and 99 and quite a bit of AIX Unix on an RS-6000 (was a linux addict even before then). The main purpose was to provide good programmers for the millenium fix which affected quite a bit old finance programs on mainframes. The funny thing was that in my first year we only had 70 people starting in computer science (that was 1996). That summer newspapers started talking about the millenium problems that could occur and the amount of money companies were willing to spent in order to get their old software fixed. The next year they had over 300 applicants! I'm not sure what the situation in the US was at the time, but I assume more companies over there had already switched to WinNT and most universities had stopped teaching those ancient programming languages... Looks like I might be able to use those skills after all.

Don' t Go There (2, Insightful)

DeltaOne18 (344288) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009114)

I used to be a COBOL programmer for an insurance firm. It wasn't by choice. I started out on a Java web app team and got transfered. I must say that there was a general lack of good technical knowledge about mainframe programming at the company (it didn't help they laided off some of the best guys) which made it even hard to do my job. Developing on the mainframe is much different, I find it more mondane and boring, then working with modern PCs and OO languages.

I am sure some people like it but I hated it and had to leave the company to get away from it since no one would transfer to my position.

--Kurt A web developer's weblog []

solution (2, Interesting)

ih8apple (607271) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009118)

The solution to the shortage of mainframe programmers is obvious if you follow what I've been doing for the past 7 years. More of my work than ever is involved with integrating Java, C, or Visual C++/VB with mainframe applications. Whether through Screen Scraping, MQ Integration (like MQSI), CORBA, CICS, TCP sockets, or other mechanisms, a larger percentage of corporate bread-and-butter applications are living longer on the mainframe and extending their life through integration with web servers or application servers. As the COBOL teams die off, corporations will stop extending the mainframe's functionality on the mainframe itself and will continue to extend the functionality on the other tiers of the applications (on WebSphere, .NET Server or wherever). Almost all of the projects I've done started out as a stupid GUI front-end on Windows or a Web browser for an existing green screen application and then grew to include a lot of business logic and data storage on the non-mainframe tiers.

How to get new mainframe techies (5, Informative)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009127)

As others have noted, the biggest hurdle is that there's no good way for an interested geek to learn firsthand about mainframe systems and OSes. While Hercules [] takes care of the hardware, at least enough for people to run something to learn on, the same isn't true for the operating system. Modern IBM OSes are hideously expensive, for an individual (unless you're Bill the Gates), and there's been some persistent comments that they won't license them on Hercules anyway (although I have no direct knowledge of this, either way).

I've been advocating a hobbyist license for IBM OSes for use by individuals with Hercules for some time now. There's a white paper at [] . Aside from a few curmudgeons, and aside from the folks at IBM who make the decisions, the reaction I've gotten to this paper has been uniformly positive. I believe that it would help slow the slide, at least.

In the meantime, the interested can get a running copy of the last public-domain version of MVS from the CBT Tape web page [] , which is a great resource for the mainframe community in general.

A Non Issue (3, Insightful)

tealover (187148) | more than 11 years ago | (#6009143)

There are always a level of IT employees who didn't go to school and get a CS degree. It may be a clerical worker trying to move up. A painter trying to hop on the bandwagon. For many of them, they don't really know the technology out there.

Employers target these people and train them. I know. I was one of them.

I went to a school called Chubb in New Jersey, which is run by the Chubb Insurance company. It was originally an inhouse training development center for Chubb so they could train new employees on their mainframe systems. It got very popular and they opened it up to outside companies to make a few bucks. It has gotten very popular and is located in several states now.

The companies who need mainframe workers know about schools like Chubb. The only thing that has changed at Chubb over the years as it became less of a Chubb training center is that they have to cater to the people who do know about current technology, so they also offer non-mainframe curriculum. But as far as I know (haven't been there in 10 years), mainframe is still their bread and butter.

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