Q&A: Mainframe skills just as important as AI talent

We speak to Chris Ducker from Sungard Availability Services about why companies still aren’t providing IT staff with the level of training they need

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The IT skills shortage gets talked about a lot across a variety of areas. Yet training is often not seen as a priority in organisations. In the lightly edited Q&A below, Chris Ducker, senior director of global proposition strategy at Sungard Availability Services, offers his opinion on why companies still aren’t providing IT staff with the level of training they need. (And why mainframes are just as important as AI.)

Why do you think companies aren’t training their IT teams?

The demands placed on the IT team continue to grow. Managing legacy technology whilst driving the adoption of new technologies to keep the company working optimally and innovating, means the IT department is stretched. Finding the time to resource it all and train staff with the range of skills needed is very difficult.

In addition, new entrants to the workforce do not possess legacy skills or working practices; for example, how many millennials are adept at managing a mainframe? They are more likely to be great at utilising containers in developing applications or using an agile DevOps approach. But even they need to learn how to leverage Artificial Intelligence and machine learning in automating processes or developing new innovative services.

There are skills shortages across a lot of areas—from security to emerging technologies—where is the biggest need?

Ironically one of the fastest growing needs is in legacy skills—this knowledge is either leaving the workforce or moving to other companies. This is a huge risk as systems and applications that are core to the business will go unsupported if these skills are not replaced.

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