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Successful Skills

By Destination Z posted Mon December 23, 2019 03:35 PM


IBM in July 2013 introducing five Global Training Providers to sell, deliver and customize the training developed by IBM. There were lots of motivations behind this decision, including extending the reach from a country view, educational options and adapting to the fast-changing way people are learning. According to Marcia Conner, “only one out of 12 students want to learn in a traditional classroom.” and IBM says it wanted to be prepared for the change.

Lets now forget about the global and cross-unit picture, and focus on the mainframe world. Numbers are often a good start to get a clear view around the facts.

Numbers Tell the Story

Figure 1 shows the number of countries covered by IBM’s z Systems training. Visible is the dip in third quarter 2013 when IBM started using partners, but according to the graph by early 2014 the Global Training Providers reached a coverage that was on level with the beginning of 2013 prior to the transition, and finally since middle of 2015 the Global Training Providers grew into more countries than ever.

Figure 1: Countries with Mainframe Training Per Quarter

Another key indicator for driving successful skills into the market is the amount of student days that are delivered each quarter. The artificial unit of “student days” is usually more precise than the unit “revenue,” especially when talking about combined growth in major and developing countries, due to big currency differences.

Figure 2 shows the student days delivered per geography. Mainframe skills were significantly down prior to the introduction of IBMs training partners, but that changed in 2015, and from a numbers point of view IBM seems to be well on track based on countries (see Figure 1) and also in the light of the numbers of skills delivered each quarter into the markets there is significant progress if you’re looking in Figure 2 to the years 2016.

Figure 2: Mainframe Training External Student Days Per Quarter

Moving away from the statistics of market coverage, let’s look to innovation and if IBM’s approach is providing for the next generation of IBM z users—the often-discussed new learning methods that are of interest for the younger audience. There is a general study from IBM published in January 2015 around millenials, also covering their approach of acquiring skills. The summary is surprising: They are open to new learning methods, but like interaction, and new methods should come on top of old-fashioned classrooms, not replacing them. So it seems to match their needs we need to have a variety of delivery methods, and every generation can pick what they need.

Figure 3 shows the evolution of the amount of different delivery methods used per quarter (e.g., classroom, blended learning, CD-ROM, self-paced, web-based, etc). This chart can only be an indicator. It’s neither speaking about interaction or if the matching methods are offered, but it gives an indication that the Global Training Providers are investing in and taking care of the mainframe audience by at least developing or adjusting delivery methods that they believe are the right fit.

Figure 3: Number of Delivery Methods Used/Quarter

Where We Are Today

It’s difficult to judge if all needed offerings and content for all age and job groups are available. Are the Global Training Providers just offering what IBM develops, or are they active to bridge gaps in any way, speaking about offering type (e.g., for millenials) or content related topics? Figure 4 underlines there wasn’t a lot of activity around offerings until early 2015, but needs from the mainframe clients were listened to, and offerings got developed or adopted that are bridging gaps.

Figure 4: Courses Developed or Modified by GTPs (offered in addition to IBM courses)/Quarter

IBM Learning Journeys

IBM is currently working to facilitate navigation and centralization of the search for skills. The newly released IBM z Systems Learning Journey is designed to easily navigate and recommend learning and training to IBM clients. From new hires to advance solutions, the z Systems Learning Journeys help lead students to the courses they need. Categories include z/OS, LinuxONE, z/VM, sysplex, security and networking. No matter your role or learning style, you'll find the content that allows you to build the need z Systems skills. The learning journey can get accessed directly from within IBM Training and Skills.

As outlined above, the Global Training Providers are taking a local focus around the offerings for z Systems, and expansion and changes are still happening. How to get access to the latest information stays simple: Visit IBM Training and Skills to see what is available locally. Beyond that, magazines and social media are good references for ideas, and it will be left to all of us to approach IBM’s Global Training Providers locally where we need training on specific offerings.

New Approaches

In France one of IBMs Training Providers pulled together clients together with Guide Share, and discussed how to ideally train to backfill future retirees, and a local academy program was designed running across two years consisting of regular training phases with the employee working in his role in between, making sure that the practical work is done in the real world environment, adding the needed deep dive training in between.

In the U.S., there are similar programs, including the Mainframe Academy Training Program featured in the July/August IBM Systems magazine, IBM Z case study.

In addition, many courses are now fully available through the IBM Training and Skills partner page, and are bridging skills and learning gaps.

In Germany the idea of “guaranteed-to-run” for classroom training was used by one of the Global Training Providers to make sure that there’s a more reliable planning possible around the mainframe. Even with this being difficult thinking of today’s variety of different offerings, there is feedback from large clients that the guaranteed-to-run approach is a valuable mean especially for large clients who expect long-term planning.

Wide Coverage

Current mainframe skills offerings shows a positive outlook: After the market and IBM clients not having as many options, they are now more available. The current offerings and delivery methods and country coverage is helping IBM clients with the skills being driven into the market today.

And beyond the current numbers: The numbers showing a very promising trend in the development of mainframe skills and the offerings have evolved a lot recently to match what the market needs.

Alexander Ziegler is the IBM Training and Skills team lead of Global Partner Managers and partner manager of Global Knowledge. He can be reached at