by Alan Sadowsky
I think most of us in today's world appreciate the value of a good education. Looking back at the years and years of schooling that we went through, there is a realization that there was inherent merit in the endless hours of lectures, and the thousands of pages of reading many of us somehow managed to get through. There are even some folks out there (although they may not openly admit it) who actually enjoyed trekking through the hallowed halls of higher education.
While I'm sure our readers represent a good cross-section of the world's institutes of higher learning, I'm going to stick my neck out and say that there isn't one person out there that had an opportunity to take a "formal" ACP/TPF class while in school. Even the Computer Science majors would be hard pressed to find an ACP or TPF offering in the old course catalogue. What's my point? Funny you should ask!
TPF education is as important to us today, as high school and college have been in the past. As much as there is a desire to be trained, there must also be an equal desire to provide that training. Tames Mason Wood once said: "Education today, more than ever before, must see clearly the dual objectives: education for living and educating for making a living."
Most of us have been TPF trained at our respective places of employment. Some of us have been fortunate enough to work for companies that have their own training departments, and others have taken advantage of vendor training, both on and off site. In almost every case however, the training is requirement specific. All right, what do I mean by "requirement specific"? Requirement specific training is somewhat akin to Darwin's theory of natural selection. Those species that have adapted to their environments are most likely to survive and flourish. Put in terms we can all relate to, the person trained in application development (A/D), will best survive and flourish in an application development environment. The person hired as an application analyst or programmer will more than likely be trained in that discipline. That's requirement specific training.
So what's the problem you ask? Up front, there really is no problem. The company is doing what is best for both the employee and the company. From a business standpoint, it's the smart thing to do. But there is a catch. Three years down the road, Ozzie or Harriet programmer would like to broaden their horizons. They've had their fill of Applications, and would like to move into another area of TPF. Well now they have two basic problems. First, they really don't have any way of knowing what areas to consider. Sure they know there' s a File Support group, and a Systems group, and a Communications group, but there's a limit to what can be gleaned from a job description on a bulletin board.
Second, as they read a little further through that job description, they very quickly come to realize that their qualifications are somewhat less than attractive. You don't see very many job opportunities posted as offering training. In the immortal words of Karl Maiden; "What will you do?"
There are actually several things you can do. Establishing a career path is a joint responsibility between you and your boss. Education is a major milestone in plotting a successful career path, and as a result should become a key topic during your discussion. Don't let this wait for review time. That may be too late to budget for any training, and a career is managed on a daily basis, not once or twice a year! Additionally, there is an abundance of TPF documentation available from IBM. Whether it's in hardcopy (printed) or softcopy (via terminal) format, your installation librarian should be able to assist you with what you need.
Last, but not least, there's ACP/TPF Today. If we accomplish anything with this newsletter, it will be in the area of education. We're going to make every effort to keep you posted on documentation, independent study programs, vendor training, and more. Every issue will contain several articles on technical areas and issues. We'll keep them clear enough for everyone to understand, and we'll do our best to cover those topics you would like discussed.