Earlier this week, ZDNet listed “four classic IT jobs that are moving to the back burner:” mainframe programmers, systems administrators, help desk technicians and SMB IT managers. While it’s true these roles are being changed, there’s still work to be done in each area—it just may get done in a different way.
Probably the most obvious job on the list is mainframe programmer. Changes in the way data is hosted and accessed have de-emphasized the need for mainframe software, and fewer people are entering the world of mainframe programming. That said, governments and financial companies continue to rely on mainframes, especially for transactional applications. “For a transaction processing computer, there is no faster or more reliable machine out there than a mainframe. The big enterprises all know this. That’s why they keep them,” said Transworld CEO Mary Shacklett.
In the next 10 to 15 years, watch for demand for mainframe programmers to kick up as today’s workers begin to retire. However, the skills required will be different than they’ve been in the past, pointed out Global Knowledge Senior Vice President Michael Fox. In addition to traditional mainframe skills, new workers “[are] also going to need Web services, mobility, they’re going to have to tie all that together.”
Meanwhile, the systems administrator’s role is evolving as more companies migrate operations to the cloud. Though there’ll continue to be a need for sys admins, much of their work is moving from the client to the vendor side. Vendor-based sys admins are likely to find themselves working for a number of organizations, not just one.
Then there’s the help desk technician, another role being impacted by fundamental changes in business operations. Not so long ago, employees worked almost exclusively with company-supplied hardware and software. Today, they’re increasingly likely to bring their own devices to work, and be an expert themselves in how those devices operate. As a result, businesses have less need for dedicated help desk personnel, and are more likely to look for lower-cost alternatives to maintaining solutions in-house.
Finally, there’s the IT managers at small and medium-sized businesses. Increasingly, companies want to combine this role with others, either by assigning IT work to tech-smart people in other departments, or by hiring a generalist who can cover all of the business’s IT demands.
All of these jobs are examples of roles that are morphing with technology. Many of their core skills will remain in demand, just in different ways, and in new places.
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