John you bring out some interesting points.  

Is there a magic solution?  I don't think so.  The 24yr old you spoke of
was right behind me...and was hoping mad that some features had been
removed from base o/s that he hadn't been informed about and had heavily
depended on for development...and as I recall stated that he had a goodly
number of clients that weren't migrating up until the missing items were
addresses...SOM/DSOM as I recall...  

Actually, there were quit a few that were a LONG way from the
grey-lines...but it would be interesting to see some of the demographic
breakdown of the 3300 folks that attended...

Perhaps we're seeing here what we're seeing in the industry.  FEWER
younger folks joining the midrange lines due to lack of training emphasis
on this product line (ergo, the many folks concerned about education
availability...which is a phenomenon we're seeing in the industry).  Face
it, it's much more sexy to universities to teach JAVA, C++++++ ,etc., than
good ole RPG...and this is truley a perception/marketing problem.  The RPG
of today has evolved greatly from that which I learned on punchcards back
in '80...(many thanks Jon, et al!) but, you're not going to see many
magazines at your local news stand that are touting RPG/CL/OS400 as the
latest and greatest (another marketing issue)....and we all know they're
gonna be around for a while...(product awareness...)

Why can't things like MAPICS be used with management cirriculums in
colleges...ergo, a 400...Query...?   Ditto for JDE...BPCS....and other
promenant software packages for other industries?  Thereby giving college
students hands on classroom experience with industry standardized
software? (yup, marketing...)

As I pointed out at soundoff, the collegiate/community college educational
facilities in the DC metro area have basically gone to zilcho...   

We're also fortunate to have a good relationship with the local IBM reps,
but again, they're dealing with finite resources...when I expressed a
concern for resources, it's like colleges teaching the
400...sometimes they're just ain't enough... What I was hoping for, and
still am, is some kind of a IBM infrastructure that can identify and
provide these resources on a regional basis.  It's damn expensive and a
logistical nightmare to fly in someone form Roch for a one nighter
meeting...there's got to be some other way...

One of the things we as a Users Group Board will be reviewing in our
annual planning meeting this fall is education resources.  And one of the
items that will be on the adjenda will be the idea of holding a series of
non-credit informal classes on such topics as RPG, screens, CL, etc.
We're not going to make master programmers...but perhaps we can help the
members of our LUG turn operators or non-experienced (to the 400) pgmr's
into junior RPG/CL/400 programmers...and from there they can RTFM and ask
the same dumb questions we all did back then...  We're not gonna make any
money per se in this venture, but we'll probably help our group base and
perhaps keep a few members on this product line.

The idea of the local users group being a source and deceminator of
education and product knowledge/expertice is a resource that has fallen
into disrepair and could and should be reviewed.  Let's face it, we've
lost PSR's...SE's...and I'm damn glad I've still got CE's...:)

A big problem we see (and we're not alone here) is that of how many people
will come if we build the stadium?  Unfortunately, ALOT of employees are
of the falicy that they're not going to learn something unless they're
PAID to do it and the class is also PAID for by someone else...the student
base of those that will take a self development class that they pay for
and on their own time is diminishing...as are programmers...the the
detriment of the student that doesn't capitalize on the learning
opportunity...  Who should pay?  Good question.  No standard answer.  

The other side of the coin is that there are ALOT of companies that just
won't send anyone to a COMMON or other training...  Some have the idea
that "you get news/3x, you don't need classes/common".  Go figure.  How
many of these wars do you want to fight?  Again, maintaining currency - a
marketing issue?  Perhaps to a extent.

JMHO..

Don in DC metro...

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