Mainframe education, particularly systems programming education, is increasingly difficult to find. If a suitable course can be found it is generally very expensive. As such courses are normally only available in the larger cities, travel and accommodation expenses will also increase the overall cost.
I have experience of preparing and presenting both “general” courses and workshops on a particular subject and also courses or workshops “tailored” specifically to the educational requirements of the customer.
The services provided fall into three categories: -
This service includes educational courses and workshops to meet your requirements on your own premises. You choose the subject matter and the appropriate level
This alternative to sending employees to another city for training is always more cost effective and the cost effectiveness increases for each additional employee to be trained.
Generally an employee takes a training course to learn the theory and then at some point in the future tries to apply the theory at his workplace. By which time some or even a lot of the theory may well have been forgotten. You have no influence over the training schedules provided by external companies, if you did have, you would probably want your employees to cover the theory one week and start the "real work" the following week, while everything is still very fresh in their minds.
With "on the job" training I hope to solve that problem. The theory is covered first and immediately followed by the practical experience of actually doing the "real work". This provides additional advantages as the practical experience does not relate to an abstract or standard laboratory environment it relates to your very specific environment.
A further distinct advantage is that by the time the training is completed, the real job or task has also been completed. That is obviously very cost effective!
The average age of mainframe systems programmers is constantly increasing. Where is the next generation of mainframe systems programmers? The sad truth is — there is more or less no next generation! The higher education institutions have neglected the mainframe for more than a decade and are still today primarily responsible for the "mainframe is dead" propaganda. It is quite amazing how many university graduates truly believe that mainframes are "extinct". When asked, they do seriously believe that their bank accounts, telephone bills, travel reservations and insurance policies are processed under Microsoft® Windows® or preferably Linux! It is sad, it is unbelievable, but it is unfortunately very true.
If you are lucky enough to find an open-minded university graduate, who is willing to be trained in mainframe skills or even mainframe systems programming, you then have the problem of providing the appropriate training. As the number of systems programmers gradually reduces, do you have the available capacity to provide the essential training?
Mentoring is a cost effective solution to this problem, providing structured technical training and development, which can be adapted to the speed with which the "trainee" learns. I consider mentoring to be a longer term, but by no means a full time activity. The amount of time and mentoring required will vary from trainee to trainee. Initially more time will be required and later far less time as the trainee builds on the knowledge and experience acquired to solve his own problems. However, the advantage is, if he does have a question or problem there is always someone he can contact. At the same time your more experienced employees can concentrate on their own work.
If you are lucky enough to find an open-minded university graduate, you should do everything possible to ensure that he receives the training and motivation he requires to stay on the mainframe!
Additionally mentoring can be appropriate to experienced systems programmers who, for whatever reason, are suddenly confronted with a product they have never worked with. This type of short term mentoring will get them "up to speed" as quickly as possible.