By Milan Shetti, CEO Rocket Software\n\nThe IT skills gap, which has incrementally worsened over the last decade, is becoming a full-blown crisis for many businesses. While many were prepared for Baby Boomers leaving the workforce, they were not anticipating two outcomes from the pandemic \u2013 and the Great Resignation coupled with a strong job market has been a gut punch. \n\nThis is having a significant impact on enterprise\u2019s ability to manage core technologies, like mainframes, that are vital to every company\u2019s tech stack, but lack the appeal of other technologies like programming, software development, and data science to the crop of new IT professionals coming from Gen Y and Z.\n\nThese younger generations are often think that mainframes are no longer relevant when, in fact, the technology is still the backbone for processing large data sets at many enterprises and in industries where security is a business differentiator.\n\nFaced with the reality that there isn\u2019t enough tech talent to go around, how do companies attract mainframe professionals? The current market has certainly created urgency for companies to communicate the right messages to the right people and the best tools to modernize the mainframe experience. \n\nHere are three tips that companies can use to highlight the opportunities available in the mainframe space.\n\n1. Expand the candidate pool\n\nThere\u2019s no replacing experience and managers looking to do so will only be met with disappointment. To find new talent, companies must expand their candidate pools. While these recruits might not have all the skills yet, they have the potential to bring immense value to your company with the right support.\n\nOne way to expand the candidate pool is to recruit people who are changing career paths or industries. As the Great Resignation continues, companies must recognize that there is a growing group of professionals looking to make a change and seek out the candidates that will most benefit their organization \u2013 regardless of IT background. If they are a good cultural fit, these professionals are prime candidates for re- and up-skilling.\n\nAnother consideration: An apprenticeship program that builds employee expertise from the ground-up and helps them succeed by providing the appropriate training. At the end of the program, employers can choose to extend full-time offers.\n\n2. Market the importance of mainframe\n\nCompanies know that recruiting requires investment and that their people are their biggest asset. One place to start with filling the mainframe skills gap is with the education system. Unfortunately, many colleges are not offering mainframe education and training; companies should lobby institutions to include these skills in their curriculum, such as teaching students COBOL. \n\nOnce candidates graduate (hopefully with some foundational mainframe skills) companies need to disseminate messaging that appeals to them, illustrating why the mainframe is an exciting technology with powerful, mission-critical capabilities while communicating opportunities for growth \u2013 as many professionals in the industry retire, there is the chance to quickly gain responsibility and provide value, resulting in job security and good compensation. Shine a spotlight on mainframe technology and its strategy value to the organization.\n\n3.Create a flexible work environment\n\nEmployee churn has high costs, which is why it is important to tailor the workplace experience to this next generation of mainframe professionals to increase retention. This should include proper training, support, and benefit offerings to encourage employees to stay with a company. Additionally, be prepared to provide the flexibility that many younger professionals expect, such as the option to work remotely, or outside of traditional 9 to 5 hours. \n\nMainframe mangers should also be aware that these professionals are digital natives with new expectations for engaging with technology. Traditional mainframe interfaces with poor user experiences may deter them. Organizations will need to modernize their tools with user-friendly graphical interfaces\u2014this way even inexperienced employees can maintain mainframe operations.\n\nFilling the mainframe skills gap is essential to keeping these mission-critical technologies operating. As mainframes continue to support businesses across industries, successful organizations will be the ones that invest in the best tools and the top talent. To learn more about how Rocket helps customers innovate and protect mainframe investments, check out our suite of products.