CA Southern Africa has unveiled its plans to open the CA Mainframe Academy. This initiative will offer ICT graduates the opportunity to gain certification – and enhanced job opportunities – in a sector of the industry with rapidly escalating skills shortages.

The first intake of graduate trainees will begin the 18-month programme in February 2014.

“Mainframe usage over the past decade or so continues to grow around the world and we see a similar trend here in South Africa. This is because of the reliability and secure operating environment of this technology,” says Gary Lawrence, MD, CA Southern Africa.

“However, a high percentage of the current technical skills base is close to retirement with not enough new people entering the mainframe world. This initiative is aimed at addressing what is currently a serious shortage of skills and turning it into an opportunity for SA’s young graduates.”

In fact, recent research by CA Technologies shows that mainframes are becoming lynchpins of enterprise architectures around the world, a solid foundation in a technology environment that is changing at bewildering speed. The research showed that 56% of respondents believe they will face a shortage of mainframe skills in the next five years.

Twenty-seven% plan to increase spending on mainframe resources. Therefore, industry leading IT management products, without the necessary skills base to support them, is an issue.

CA Technologies has a global mainframe Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Prague with a structured training programme. CA Southern Africa will use material developed for the global programme along with skilled instructors who will be flown out to South Africa for the two month-long classroom-based portions of the Academy.

“Our course will also include a comprehensive three-month orientation period plus 12 months’ work experience in mainframe environments at some of our leading customers,” says Lawrence. At the end of the programme, these graduates will obtain an internationally recognised certification from CA.

Lawrence adds: “We have received immensely enthusiastic and positive responses from our clients and other mainframe users about this initiative and it is evident that the local market is very supportive of this programme.”

The initial intake of the Mainframe Academy will admit between 12 to 16 new graduates whose degrees have a significant ICT component. Trainees will be paid a stipend in line with ICT SETA guidelines and CA Southern Africa will provide all the training at its expense.

“This is an initiative to build South African skills in a vital sector of a key industry – and to give new graduates privileged entry into an area where such skills are much sought after around the world and are very well remunerated. Graduates from the CA Southern Africa Mainframe Academy will also have the opportunity to pursue job experience through the EOH job creation programme,” says Lawrence.

He emphasises that this is a national opportunity that could eventually see South Africa becoming a global centre of excellence for the training of mainframe technicians.