Comprehending the Millennial Psyche: Accommodating the Next Generation of Mainframe Developers By Mike Siemasz As mainframe developers retire, the need has arisen for millennials to fill the ranks. But let’s be honest; a brood of next-generation developers readily assuming the inheritance of mainframe software development in lieu of mobile, web or distributed development is unlikely—unless we change how mainframe development is done. While there has been some progress on the front of recruiting millennials for mainframe development, a 2015 survey of 350 global CIOs from enterprise organizations unveiled alarming contrasts between how CIOs perceive the skills shortage and actions they’re taking on premonitions of a diminishing workforce. The study described the troubling reality exacerbating the mainframe skills shortage: Although 88 percent of CIOs believe the mainframe will be a primary business asset for the next decade, 39 percent still don’t have a plan for addressing the mainframe skills shortage. These enterprises are continuing mainframe development with the experts they 6 | E n t e r p r i s e Exe c u t i ve | 2016: Issue 4 have, but remain heedless of the call for a new generation of developers and for innovation. Companies need to hire millennials to end the mainframe skills shortage, but mainframe development remains recondite and millennial unaccommodating. The first step in solving the mainframe skills shortage is understanding the millennial mentality—why millennials are mainframe averse, and how to alleviate that aversion by providing young developers with the culture, tools and processes they need. Millennials Believe the Mainframe Development Career Trajectory Looks Dismal Many millennials perceive working with mainframe technology as a career dead end. They fear they won’t get a chance to shine in the slow, legacy software development processes that have besmirched the name of the mainframe in the eyes of young developers. Mainframe shops need to empower millennials to view working with the mainframe as a challenge with the reward of opportunity.