IBM i Community-Minded Planning
July 14, 2014 Dan Burger
There will be IBM midrange shops hiring entry-level employees this year. And there will be shops wondering where they will find these folks. Finding entry-level workers with the right mix of technology skills (that includes IBM i) is not as simple as buying a gallon of milk at the Piggly Wiggly.
One place you can shop for talent is the COMMON Fall Conference October 27-29 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The plan, according to Laura Ubelhor, is to bring as many as 20 college students to the event as an introduction to the IBM i community and an opportunity to potentially meet with prospective employers.
Ubelhor is assistant executive director for the COMMON Education Foundation (CEF). She’s a strong supporter of the idea that IBM i community needs higher visibility at the college level and it needs more young people participating at the community level. She and CEF Executive Director Michelle August spearhead the efforts to bring students to the COMMON conferences.
To make that happen takes funding. The students’ travel expenses and conference registration fees are covered by a “scholarship” program paid for by members of the IBM i community.
“We won’t have a problem gathering students, but whether we can actually bring 20 students to the conference in Indianapolis depends on whether we can raise the funds,” Ubelhor says.
A portion of the funding looks solid based on continuing support from the IBM IBM Power Systems Academic Initiative (PSAI) and several IBM i vendors.
PSAI has supported this program at the past two COMMON events, and Peter Glass, program manager for PSAI, is confident that support will continue, although it is yet to be officially approved.
Also supporting the program in the past are IBM i software vendors Maxava, Velocity Technology Solutions, Zend Technologies, ProData Computer Services, and Profound Logic. Consultants and consulting companies adding financial support included Arbor Solutions, Consultech, iTech Solutions, Central Park Data, and Alan Seiden, plus IBM Systems Magazine.
Increasing the number of students participating in the COMMON Conferences (spring and fall) is an admirable goal. It’s good for COMMON, good for IBM, and good for the i community. As it is, the students get a great introduction to everything the conference provides from education to networking, but more could be done with programs designed to introduce students with companies that are hiring. There could be formal job interviews that include vendors as well as companies that depend on IBM i to run their businesses. It could be much like a job fair, with conversations and meetings that lead to jobs. Up to this point, the financial support has been shouldered by the vendor community. They certainly have a stake in this, but so do companies with investments in IBM i that are developing skills-rich workforces.
“When you get students to these events, it’s a beautiful thing because they are inspired by us and we are inspired by them,” Ubelhor says.