Empowering a new generation of IBM Z developers

By | 2 minute read | March 31, 2021

Every day, billions of transactions occur online. Many of them are processed by a mainframe. The mainframe has proven to be an integral part of the world’s economy, enabling global financial, medical and retail institutions to drive their businesses forward. And the platform continues to evolve with open standards and support of modern developer languages, toolchains, and management practices.

Cultural and social changes are driving digital transformations, opening up opportunities for more roles in IT infrastructure. In a recent Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Deloitte, most companies view their mainframe as a strategic component to hybrid cloud environments and 91% of the business interviewed identified expanding mainframe footprints as a moderate/critical priority in the next 12 months.  These new roles and opportunities in IT Infrastructure are being filled by a new generation of computing talent.

Here at IBM we are committed to inspiring, educating and supporting new generations as they begin their computing careers. Recently, IBM wrapped up the 16th annual Master the Mainframe competition. Twelve winners emerged from high school and university students competing across the globe in a “coding obstacle course” with three levels of challenges. The coding challenges offered participants a chance to use and build skills in VS Code, Zowe, Python, JCL, REXX, and COBOL. And it was all completed on the mainframe—a platform new to many students but leveraging a suite of developer tools consistent with current computer science curriculums.

“The mainframe really has a huge impact on your life,” said Melissa Christie, a North America regional winner. “It’s a hidden entity that controls a large number of things in your day to day, from medical records to transactions. It’s really interesting that this thing that we have in our society does everything, but most people don’t even know about it.”

The mainframe continues to be a highly secure, resilient and reliable platform for mission-critical applications. Today, enterprises are optimizing these applications for hybrid, multicloud environments, while maintaining stability, security and agility. IBM Z allows developers to have control over the full life cycle of application development, no matter where the application is running. And new developers are taking notice. Pierre Jacquet, a 2020 Master the Mainframe Grand Prize winner, said one of the highlights of the contest was the ability to work with multiple coding languages.

“I mainly learned about the new development environment for the mainframe,” said Jacquet. “Discovering the development environment with Zowe was really cool and was a way to be more agile to facilitate development. I was quite impressed by the smoothness of the tools.”

For enterprises to continue successful digital transformations, there needs to be a talent pool familiar with the platform and who have been exposed to career roles within the Z environment. The entire Z community is teaming to bring these opportunities to students and the future workforce. M&T Bank recently shared their transformation story with CIO.com, focused on their collaboration with IBM and investment in the future workforce.

For employers looking to fill IT roles, IBM created Talent Match, an online platform that enables employers to find skilled workers.  There are additional employer resources available on the IBM Z Employer Hub. While the student competition is over, the Master the Mainframe remains open to the public as a learning platform year-round for anyone interested in developing their skills to prepare for an enterprise computing career. Students can continue learning and networking at the IBM Z Global Student Hub and explore all of the IBM Z education initiatives.