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Transworld Data Case Study

ULT and HSBC Global Technology Partner on Winning Mainframe Training

In a unique collaboration between an academic institution and an enterprise, ULT (Latin American Technology Union) in Curitiba, Brazil, teamed with HSBC Global Technology to develop a System z training program in Brazil that produces graduates with enterprise-ready skills for HSBC Global Technology, the technology arm of the HSBC Group, and for other enterprises. The program enables ULT to offer students relevant technology education that favorably positions them for the job market.

The stakes in the ULT program are high for HSBC Global Technology, which has 28,000 employees in Brazil, and also a substantial local banking presence. HSBC Global Technology relies on System z/zEnterprise computing for its mission-critical operations, and has one of its four worldwide technology development and support organizations, with over 700 employees, located in Curitiba. The success of this organization depends on being able to recruit and infuse fresh young talent capable of working on mainframeclass machines. “The head of HSBC Global Technology’s Human Resources Department for Technology and Support came to me, and said that many of their mainframe employees were retiring and that they needed to educate and hire in young people with mainframe, COBOL and communications skills,” said Carlos Oliveira, President of ULT From the beginning, the ULT-HSBC Global Technology synergy was there. Organizations like HSBC Global Technology focus on developing technology solutions to support their end businesses. They do not specialize in developmental IT training, although they recognize that they require it. Conversely, an educational institution like ULT has instructional expertise. Both HSBC Global Technology and ULT felt that there was an opportunity for ULT to develop a strong System z/zEnterprise curriculum and to advance its goals of developing students so they will be prepared for the enterprise IT job market. As a ULT business partner and sponsor that was integral to the process, HSBC Global Technology wanted to be the recipient of these enterprise-ready graduates.

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Starting a System z Program
Carlos Oliveira, President, ULT

The initial challenge for both HSBC Global Technology and ULT was budget. HSBC Global Technology did not have a separate internal training budget that could fund the effort, and ULT could not begin the task of developing a new technology curriculum from the ground up and then hire instructors without some initial funding. This required creative thinking to overcome the complications. To offset ULT’s initial financial burden of developing a System z curriculum and hiring instructors, HSBC Global Technology agreed to furnish the instructors, who already were HSBC Global Technology-paid IT staff members. HSBC Global Technology also agreed to lend the HSBC Global Technology “brand” to the school. “As a result of this team effort, we have some of the best COBOL and mainframe professionals teaching our classes,” said ULT’s Carlos Oliveira. “They are true evangelists. They love the technology, they are actual industry practitioners working inside of an enterprise, and they share their enthusiasm with the students.” What neither organization anticipated was the overwhelming student response. As students became aware of the new System z technology curriculum at ULT, they also began to see the job opportunities in enterprises for graduates with this type of training. Students responded overwhelmingly and enthusiastically to the program. Consequently, in the initial five-week enrollment period for the classes, ULT had 105 students enrolled in mainframe classes. “The IBM Academic Initiative program really took off,” said Oliveira. “The program had strong participation from the beginning, and students who did well were hired by HSBC Global Technology.”

Developing an Enterprise-Ready Curriculum At the heart of the ULT-HSBC Global Technology effort was collaborative development of a purposeful curriculum that would give ULT a new technology program, equip students with skills that were highly sought in the enterprise IT job market in Brazil, and deliver to HSBC Global Technology fresh talent for the mainframe side of its data center.

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“We took a decidedly different approach to building and delivering the System z curriculum,” said Oliveira. “From the very beginning, we were directly involved with the President of HSBC Global Technology, which is responsible for the bank’s software development. We wanted to produce enterprise technology-ready graduates from the program, and HSBC Global Technology wanted to hire them. Also from the beginning, we were under a great deal of pressure to make this program work very quickly.” Students were attracted to the program because courses were taught by mainframe instructors who were expert technical practitioners in their own right in the HSBC Global Technology mainframe environment. One of these instructors is Ricardo Silva, a mainframe support analyst and trainer in HSBC Global Technology since 1993, and a mainframe trainer in ULT since 2007. “I built a mainframe course covering various mainframe tools. The course was developed with the objective of enabling students to be able to produce a system on a mainframe platform,” said Silva. The curriculum is comprised of several courses:
       Introduction to ZOS: Brief history and features of mainframe software and hardware. TSO/ISPF: Discusses working with files on TSO (allocation, editing, copying, utilities, etc.). In this module, the student receives a userid to access TSO. JCL: Covers all JCL statements necessary to develop systems in a batch environment, such as JOB, EXEC, DD, IF, PROCS, GDG, etc. COBOL for z/OS: Covers all COBOL language for z/OS, including all access methods used by COBOL. SQL: Relational theory concepts and DML/DDL commands. DB2: DB2 concepts and SQL embedded in a COBOL program. CICS: CICS concepts, map definition (BMS) and CICS APIs.

The System z curriculum provides an excellent theoretical foundation for the mainframe, but it is also very hands-on and practical. The overall idea is to assist students in the development of their skills as mainframe programmers, but also to give them a sufficiently sound foundation that will allow them to more effectively solve technical problems that they encounter because they have a deeper understanding of how everything works together. Silva points to courses in COBOL, DB2 and CICS as examples of how students receive this strong foundation, and then continue to build on that foundation with progressively more difficult “hands on” assignments. “In the COBOL course, students develop a small batch system,” Silva said. “They work on file consistency by updating a VSAM file, and then they build a report for a user. In the DB2 course, students change the COBOL program created in the previous COBOL course. They change their VSAM file to DB2 tables. In the CICS course, students

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develop a small online system with CICS screens (BMS), using the database created in the previous DB2 course.” The approach works. Almost every program graduate secures employment in an enterprise IT organization.

Student Responsiveness and Enterprise Results Since ULT began offering mainframe courses four years ago, hundreds of students have gone through the program, including 115 students at the end of 2011. Like many young people entering into enterprise technology course work, ULT students walk through the door with some understanding of the PCs and the mobile devices that they have grown up with, but have limited understanding of the level of computing required to run large enterprises. “We recognize the importance of the System z program when we speak with young students entering the courses,” said Carlos Oliveira. “Most have no knowledge of mainframe computing, how important it is, and what it does.” Marcelo Liteka, a ULT student, is a good example. “Before the coursework at ULT, I did not know much about mainframe computing in practice,” said Liteka, who took a year-long course at ULT on mainframe technologies that included z/OS, TSO, DB2, CICS, JCL and COBOL. “I had an understanding of the importance of IBM mainframe tools on banking and large companies systems--but I was surprised about how much more companies used mainframe computing. It was much more than I thought they did.” Today, Liteka is an IT banking employee. He uses the mainframe skills that he developed at ULT. “I work in a mainframe environment taking care of user access and the program life cycle on Endevor. I also perform CICS maintenance, DB2 access and maintenance, and other maintenance related to the mainframe environment,” said Liteka “The mainframe skills I developed at ULT were the main reason why I got this job. Without the mainframe education, I also would not have the necessary level of confidence needed for the job I do today. All the training and the tutoring at ULT were highly valuable to me.” In another case, System z training at ULT allowed an employee to make a career change. Alessandra Moreira, a business analyst in HSBC Global Technology, took a ten-month course at ULT in COBOL and the mainframe. “The course was instrumental in my securing employment with HSBC Global Technology,” said Moreira. “It gave me a great opportunity and it allowed me to make the career change I wanted.”

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The value of the ULT System z program is also being felt in enterprises in Brasil like HSBC Global Technology, which hires 30 to 40 mainframe-trained students from ULT annually. “ULT has very high quality courses, and it is also very selective of the students who enroll in them,,” said Caio Doi, Head of Human Resources at the HSBC Global Technology Technology Center. “In other words, they are not just “selling” courses and trying to get as many people enrolled as possible. Instead, they are making the effort to attract the best and brightest students into these subjects. Because of this, we find that the ULT graduates who accept IT positions here at HSBC Global Technology are much better trained and prepared than other recruits that come from outside of ULT.”

Moving Forward with New Strategies Developing a System z curriculum that is closely calibrated to the real-world working needs of enterprises has enhanced ULT’s reputation for real world results from the education that it offers. This has driven sizable annual student enrollments in the program, because students see the results and want to invest in an education that can secure strong employment opportunities. Keeping these enterprise technology courses aligned with the needs of enterprises is the cornerstone of the program’s success. “We have had nothing but great results from the partnership with Grupo Américas,” said HSBC Global Technology’s Caio Doi. “It’s good when we can align academic studies with the skills needs of our jobs in the company. Doi said that HSBC Global Technology’s close affiliation with ULT has solved a critical enterprise problem: securing excellent mainframe technology training for new and existing employees. “By working closely with ULT, we are able to adapt the academic curriculum to what we need, whether it is skills in the System z area, Java skills, or even skills in English as a second language. We find that the technology curriculum is taught so well that when ULT interns and graduates come to us, all we really need to do is to put them through the basic orientation to our specific systems.” This program has succeeded so well that it has inspired ULT to extend the reach of its education. The school’s strategic direction is to convert its classroom courses to an online distributed learning format that can be targeted to a larger marketplace where students in over 5,300 cities throughout Brazil (a country of over 50 million broadband users) can participate in online classes that feature mainframe technology. “We are moving aggressively in this direction, and this is the last year that we will be giving classes in classrooms,” said Carlos Oliveira. “We believe that the future of technology curriculum is in online learning.” Others believe in the power of online learning, too. Last year, Oliveira presented ULT’s online education model at the University of California. “What we showed them was the mainframe program, which combines enterprise know-how with institutional education

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expertise to produce courses and then extends the reach of these courses by converting them to an online format that is available to anyone who has Internet and a broadband connection,” said Oliveira. The online learning utilizes Blackboard, a content management and learning tool that allows a professor to communicate with students over the Internet via voice and text. The software can also deliver tests, grades, videos, other technical resources and even lab system testing exercises. Most importantly, the program is working---and it is inspiring other institutions of higher learning to consider a similar methodology for technology coursework.

Today, ULT graduates get hired at HSBC Global Technology, and also at other major corporations throughout Brazil, Canada, Spain, India and the U.S. Those with mission-critical mainframe skills walk through the doors of these companies as “enterprise-ready” hires who for the most part only require an orientation to data center systems, policies and procedures before they start returning value. While this is happening, the worldwide higher education community is being scrutinized by enterprises and by students. Students want their educational investment to culminate in jobs, and industry wants to see graduates who can quickly become productive in enterprise IT. Using its close partnership with HSBC Global Technology, ULT has become both a results-driven and a results-producing institution, positioning it well in the worldwide drive to excellence in enterprise technology education.

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