Monday, October 28, 2013

Old mainframe skills keep coming back in demand as older programmers retire -- does this affect Obamacare and the IRS?

I received an email this morning about a company with 20+ openings in IBM mainframe assembler near Cincinnati, OH, apparently with W2 pay of $75 /hr  (a few years ago, pay of $30-40 seemed to be common). 

Is this a reflection on the possibility that the skill level in old mainframe disciplines is disappearing as older programmers retire or, as with me, some move on to other things after “career changing” layoffs or forced retirements that occurred after Y2K and then 9/11 (or, more recently, after the 2008 crisis). 

I don’t know whether this opening is related to healthcare; the IRS still uses assembler programming in its legacy systems around the country and is experiencing great difficulty getting work done these days.  The jobs also require COBOL 6, JCL, VSAM, and probably other common mainframe skills like Endeavor.  
One problem with staffing legacy projects is the way professional reputation plays out with social media.  Who wants to sell themselves online as an expert in outmoded technology?  So the same people get gigs in the same technology over and over, but eventually they retire or drop off. 
The current problems being reported in the press with the Obamacare website seem to be more at the presentation layers, with server throughout.  But there are likely to be problems with processing in the legacy areas, with eligibility and interagency processing, and money going between the fibbies and states, and all of this is likely to be old-fashioned mainframe processing.  How was all this system-tested before going into production Oct. 1?  How could something that didn’t exist before be tested? Did the contractors have the usual teams of “business analysts”?

As for this Ohio opening in Assembler, it seems that the company involved is called Maintec, link here, with a client of SLK America. 

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