Fortunately, someone has decided to do something definitive about this problem. Regular readers of our blog will recall that we've talked before about our friend, Jim Buck. His IBM i program at Gateway Technical College has companies clamouring for his graduates. We've often said how great it would be if we could clone Jim to replicate this success elsewhere. Well, maybe we can't clone Jim, but Jim (and others) are working hard to create clones of his program!
The project is not simply about increasing the number of colleges teaching IBM i curriculum--although that in itself would be a welcome improvement. It also wants to address the disconnect that exists between colleges and companies that need their graduates. Developing a partnership between business and academia ensures that the skills that today's companies require are being taught. Ultimately the project aims at developing an industry-led standardized curriculum that focuses on the skills that today's businesses running IBM i need, with accompanying certifications to give hiring companies assurance of the skill level achieved by the graduate.
This is not just a pie in the sky effort. First of all, Gateway already has experience at creating industry-led standardized curricula for non-IT programs and replicating those programs across the country in partnership with other schools and companies. Nor is it a shoestring project, the intention is to obtain funding from a U.S. Department of Labor program--money always helps!
So why is your help needed?
Even with their experience to draw on and (hopefully) the money to fund it, the project organizers need your help. They are looking for companies that need or anticipate a need in future enterprise-level IT skills to help them gear the curriculum to the requriements of businesses. That's where you come in, readers.
Here's a link to a brief survey to begin that process. The survey will help guide the organizers to understand where the specific skill gaps are (e.g., rank in importance to your business the need for skills in CL, RPG, PHP, .Net, etc. ). You'll also see on the survey the five schools that have initially signed up to work on this. This list is expected to grow over time but you may select one or more schools that you would particularly like to work with. You will also be asked for your company name and location as well as a business contact so that someone from the project can follow up with you to get more details and determine some of the ways in which your company can participate in guiding this project to meet the needs of businesses like yours.
As usual, we're interested in your feedback on this idea. But most of all, we encourage you to take the survey and get involved in helping ensure the future supply of IBM i skills in the marketplace.