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Feeling the IBM Z® Talent Crunch? Introducing IBM Z Apprenticeship Program

By Jackie Griffin posted 3 days ago


Feeling the IBM Z® Talent Crunch? Introducing IBM Z Apprenticeship Program
By Jackie Griffin, Chief Operating Officer, Franklin Apprenticeships

The demand for IBM Z is through the roof. For fans of IBM Z, that statement is no surprise – the platform’s data privacy, security and resilient hybrid multi-cloud environment were essential for companies even before COVID-19 which is why 67% of Fortune 100 companies already use IBM Z. Now, with remote and hybrid working here to stay and the use of automation and AI accelerating, companies are up and accessing even more of the IBM Z benefits.
However, this is increasing demand for enterprise computing talent.  Finding skilled workers who can maintain and build on the mainframe can be a real challenge. In 2020, the BMC Mainframe Survey found that a third of mainframe professionals are 50+ years old, and employers reported that half of their current talent is planning on retiring in the next five years[1]. Colleges aren’t producing enough graduates to meet demand.  Additionally, there is a marked lack of diverse talent to fill rewarding, well-paid tech roles which contributes to industry-wide talent imbalances.

But here’s the good news. This skills shortage, paired with millions of people re-entering the workforce creates the perfect climate for a new type of training for Mainframe roles - called apprenticeships. An apprenticeship combines structured learning with on-the-job training; apprentices are employed by their companies, so they earn while they learn. Apprenticeships are more accessible to people from diverse backgrounds and career-changers, and companies also benefit as they can train apprentices in their processes and fill skills gaps from day one. 

In 2020, IBM launched its new IBM Z Apprenticeship Program for US Employers delivered in collaboration with Franklin Apprenticeships and the Urban Institute. This program supports IBM clients in filling critical technical skills gaps with Mainframe System Admin and IBM Z Application Developer apprenticeships and includes technical curriculum supported by IBM SMEs, along with one-on-one coaching from Franklin Apprenticeships. This one-year IBM Z apprenticeship is an on ramp to a career path in technology regardless of background and education level, representing a powerful tool in closing the gender and diversity gaps in tech.

For example, the IBM Z apprenticeship attracted Lydia, a first-generation American and former teacher who was the first in her family to finish college. Although she didn’t study technology in school, she has always had an interest in it but struggled to get her foot in the door. Through her apprenticeship at a large bank, Lydia quickly gained the skills needed to launch her career on Mainframe.

William is another recent apprenticeship recruit who was hoping to move into tech after leaving the Air Force. But he had only completed half of his IT degree and had no related job experience in a tech field so he was concerned employers wouldn’t give him a chance. Thanks to his IBM Z Apprenticeship, William is now working at a large financial institution and is progressing quickly in his new tech career.

Apprenticeships are not only great for individuals, but they also offer an excellent return on investment for employers. Apprentices’ diverse perspectives bring new ideas and approaches to companies, improving productivity and enhancing competitiveness. Apprentices on average have a higher retention rate than their non-apprentice counterparts (Franklin Apprentices average 95% retention) and they report higher morale and sustained company loyalty.

Apprenticeships offer immense potential for the American economy and the tech sector when they are designed to deliver top-quality outcomes for individuals and businesses. That’s what drives our team at Franklin Apprenticeships – helping businesses solve skilled labor shortages, communities attract workforce talent, and individuals find pathways to high-paying careers. And that’s why we are so excited to be part of the IBM Z Community – as IBM and IBM Z Fans are leading the way in building a new generation of technical talent. 

If you want to learn more about apprenticeships, or join us in #ChangingTheAmericanWorkforce visit our website or get in touch with us at