Big banks move to address mainframe skills shortage

10 Sep 2009

Financial services organisations are leading the drive to address the mainframe skills shortage in Europe, a new survey reveals.

Some 60pc of financial services organisations already rely on the mainframe to administer their critical data and 57pc of firms in this sector agree that a web-enabled graphical user interface (GUI) would make the mainframe more attractive to less experienced IT staff.

This is reflected in a drive to recruit individuals with the potential to fill the skills gap. In addition, 42pc of financial sector organisations are addressing the mainframe training needs of their employees.

The independent research – “The Mainframe: Surviving and Thriving in a Turbulent World” – was commissioned by CA and conducted by the respected international research organisation Vanson Bourne. A total of 180 interviews were conducted during February and March 2009 among European IT directors and senior IT managers.

The independent survey of five vertical markets (manufacturing, the public sector, retail distribution, transport and technology) in Europe indicates that 71pc of those surveyed in the financial sector recognise that the mainframe will start to suffer from a shrinking workforce, brought about by the skills shortage.

This compares with an average of 66pc across the other surveyed market sectors.

By contrast, there is less action taking place to address the skills shortage in other market sectors. For example, only 9pc of public sector organisations believe a web-enabled GUI could help narrow this shortage.

“This survey demonstrates that the financial services sector recognises the issue more than any other sector as they run the majority of business-critical applications on the platform,” says Thomas Leitner, senior vice-president mainframe sales EMEA, CA.

“As experienced mainframe professionals approach retirement and organisations are being tasked to do more with less, IT decision-makers have to aggressively seek more from their mainframes while rigorously controlling ownership costs.

“The financial services market is conclusive proof that a combination of skills training, the simplification of essential mainframe management tasks, more applications being run on the mainframe, automation, and an easy-to-use GUI environment will ensure the mainframe continues to thrive,” Leitner added.

To help ensure the next generation of IT management professionals can effectively manage their companies’ mainframes, CA is putting that same generation’s best and brightest programming talent to work on its Mainframe 2.0 initiative – designed to simplify essential mainframe management tasks.

Developed to help organisations do more with less and achieve Lean IT, Mainframe 2.0 enables customers to transition tasks to less experienced staff, while freeing valued, highly-experienced mainframe professionals for more demanding responsibilities.

CA’s Mainframe Centre of Excellence in the Czech Republic is also geared to address the skills gap. The purpose of the centre is to train and educate young people in mainframe software development.

Photo: Thomas Leitner, senior vice-president mainframe sales EMEA, CA.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years