Computer firms try to grow talent to handle mainframe worker shortage

USATODAY..."Big Iron," as the machines are called, is not headed for extinction any time soon. But nearly 50 years after these once-giant computers were first introduced, companies like Detroit-based Compuware and IBM are preparing for a shortage of mainframe workers.

"This will be a growing problem very quickly," said Bob Paul, CEO of Compuware, a business software firm that gets 40% of its revenue from its mainframe division.

Compuware estimates that as many as 40% of the world's mainframe programmers will be retiring in the near future.

The looming shortage has forced mainframe companies such as Compuware, IBM and CA Technologies to step up their talent-development efforts. But in a world with 3D graphics, video streaming and all kinds of social media, getting young people interested in a career in mainframes is a tough sell.

"It is not as sexy as developing new mobile apps," Paul acknowledged. "But if you want a secure and highly valued career, this is a great place to go."

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