IBM’s expanded IBM Z skills initiative will help clients hire and train apprentices for key roles

IBM today announced it’s expanded the IBM Z skills initiative for cultivating talent by including a new nationwide IT Infrastructure apprenticeship accelerator program.

Delivered in collaboration with Franklin Apprenticeships and the Urban Institute, the free program will target IBM Z Ecosystem clients looking to hire new collar talent across system administrators, system programmers and application developer roles.

“In keeping with IBM's commitment to make the digital era an inclusive one by expanding opportunity for people from all backgrounds and communities to build skills for in-demand careers, this new collar IBM Z skills training program will recruit and develop candidates from across the United States with no previous technology experience required,” IBM said.

“As part of the pre-apprenticeship program that IBM will provide in support of each client's IBM Z apprenticeship initiative, each candidate will receive an introduction to computer science, complete ‘Master the Mainframe’ levels one and two, and complete a curriculum of Z series operating system (z/OS) practitioner training – all remotely.”

Apprentices will receive over 300 hours of virtual training and have access to subject matter expertise and mentorship from IBM. According to IBM, the learning paths will adhere to competency standards defined by the joint client.

Following the pre-apprenticeship program, candidates will continue on a one-year earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship with additional technical and employer-led on-the-job training. Upon successful completion, apprentices can earn a credential recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor.

IBM also revealed M&T Bank as an early adopter of its new program. Through this apprenticeship, which M&T rebranded as its Z Development Program (ZDP) Mainframe Apprenticeship, M&T plans to grow its existing talent pool in the Buffalo, New York area and accelerate the bank's digital transformation strategy by hiring 10 apprentices. The trainees are anticipated to start in January 2021.

"In Buffalo, our regional tech ecosystem has continued to gain momentum, even as we've navigated the challenges of the pandemic. Working collaboratively, business, government and nonprofit leaders are focused on developing, retaining and attracting tech talent to buildout our city's innovation corridor and strengthen our regional economy," said Mike Wisler, chief information officer at M&T Bank.

"Our goal for the ZDP initiative is to ensure M&T Bank has the depth of talent necessary to efficiently operate our IBM Z systems, which are essential to banking functions our customers rely on, and it can contribute to the wider, regional efforts underway in Western New York to build an inclusive workforce equipped with the skills necessary to compete in the global economy. In a historically blue-collar city, IBM's new-collar apprenticeship program serves as another mechanism to help build a resilient, skilled workforce and foster a more inclusive economic recovery."