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Diverse Talent: The New Easy Button for United States IBM Z Employers

By Meredith Stowell posted Wed September 02, 2020 05:12 PM


IBM Z has teamed with Franklin Apprenticeships, and the US Department of Labor to develop skilled, diverse talent for any location in the United States. The only missing ingredient - employers willing to hire Mainframe Sys Admin/Sys Prog or Application Developers for a one year apprenticeship.

To help employers create a diverse, sustainable workforce for IBM Z, IBM is announcing a new IBM Z Apprenticeship program available to clients across the United States. The program provides proven recruitment services targeted at New Collar candidates, including P-TECH students, vetted through a pre-apprenticeship program, over 320 hours of virtual training, individual learning paths based on joint client defined competency standards, dedicated success managers, apprenticeship administration, and access to subject matter experts to employers.

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are an earn as you learn program combining formal training with on the job training, creating new pathways to employment for candidates without an advanced degree. Upon completion, the participants earn a nationally recognized credential from the Department of Labor. Employers have seen a significant increase in retention rates as well as the ability to more broadly diversify their workforce by leveraging non-traditional apprenticeship programs.

What is the Easy Button?

This New Collar program is targeted to entry level talent for Mainframe Sys Admin/Sys Prog or Application Developer roles. Diverse candidates will be locally recruited by Franklin Apprenticeships and vetted through an introductory z/OS pre-apprenticeship training program. Upon successful completion of the pre-apprenticeship, a candidate pool will be presented to the employers to be hired by the client for a one year apprenticeship. During the apprenticeship, additional training will be provided and the apprentice will perform client assigned on-the-job training to achieve defined competencies for certification.

To enable this to be a US wide program and also to provide additional services for local diversity recruitment and apprentice success managers for employers, we have teamed with Franklin Apprenticeships to administer the program. Franklin Apprenticeships brings deep knowledge and experience with apprenticeships to help us increase success and ensure proven practices are followed as we embark on this new initiative. They will work closely with each employer to understand their specific hiring needs. All training will be delivered virtually with subject matter experts available to assist throughout the program via office hours, forums, and virtual sessions.

Why use the Easy Button?

The program provides the following for participating employers:

  • Local recruitment services with a focus on diversity, underrepresented populations, and veterans
  • Vetted candidates who have completed a z/OS pre-apprenticeship foundational training program
  • Over 320 hours of training throughout the program
  • Apprenticeship program administration and success managers
  • Skilled IBM Z talent with unique knowledge of your environment through on the job training

What is required to participate?

Employers must commit to the following:

  • Agree to hire pre-apprentice graduates for a 1 yr apprenticeship
  • Identify the location and type of apprentices needed - Mainframe Sys Admin/Sys Prog and/or Mainframe Application Developer
  • Assign apprentices technical mentors and provide on the job training for a one-year period
  • Enable apprentices to attend virtual training sessions
  • Provide wage step increases based on competency achievements

This program allows multiple employers to combine their hiring requirements to create a group of apprentices that will go through the program together as a cohort. One of the most important ingredients to employee retention is creating the sense of belonging, a true community. By connecting these apprentices to other similar individuals who are going through the program, they have a peer to peer support network that will last well beyond the one year program and into their career with the IBM Z platform.

Checkout these videos of a current Mainframe System Administrator apprentice Jonesy Jones & an apprenticeship alum Clayton Slaughter who currently works as a zVM and Z Linux Systems Programmer at IBM.

For more information contact Shelly Meierarend at