Everything old is new again


And the hot new tech job is...COBOL programmer?

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, but readers of this post about antiquated Pentagon systems are crowing about demand for old-school skills.

Says a commenter who goes by "Sing": I do not know any young programmers that are interested in learning COBOL, but I do know a lot of older programmers that are looking forward to the inevitable jump in salary.

A recent report claimed that 65 percent of core systems at surveyed companies in the insurance industry were written in legacy code, including COBOL. And a computer science prof I spoke with says the skills crunch is for real, with big iron outlasting the folks who know what to do with it.

Related: Vint Cerf says, "Over time the bits we accumulate that represent value will not be able to be interpreted. We have to maintain the meaning of the data we accumulate."


2 Comments for "Everything old is new again"

  • Eddie May 02, 2008 12:19 pm

    This has the answers you are looking for. It a great topic about COBOL from a graduates point of view: http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/IT-networks-and-communications-blog/2008/04/cobol-programmers-back-in-dema.html

  • Peter May 02, 2008 12:14 pm

    Here's some proper research -- unbiased ( I don't work for a COBOL company) I was a fairly recent graduate, and guess what I got my first job as a COBOL developer. I have been a COBOL developer for three years since graduating. I can truly say I wish I stayed away from COBOL and so should all you recent graduates. It really doesn't matter whether or not there are 70 billion lines of COBOL and all that other stuff; if you can't get a job in this area (trust me I�½ve been looking). All you have to do is type COBOL in a job search (and there we have it - the last time I got 40 hits) COBOL IS DEAD�½ if you want to get a job. When you narrow down your search to say London and you only get about 7 hits �½ so if you want to work as a software developer stay away from COBOL. It really doesn't matter if some developer says "COBOL is not dead, I've recently got a job in COBOL". These people probably been programming in COBOL for a life time (that's like 25 years) so you are competing with these guys for those handful of jobs. It really doesn't matter if one says "there will be plenty of jobs when these old people retire and a company will give you loads of money if you have COBOL experience�½. They may give people with COBOL skills loads of money to fix a bug but how often do these bugs cause faults (remember if its working don't touch it). So you maybe sitting unemployed for years before anything goes wrong, waiting for your one off big contract payment (sounds like too much of a risky investment). Anyway I've been looking for work out their and finding it very hard (almost impossible) to find a job. I am a First Class graduate and have a Masters and even with these academics three years of doing COBOL has crippled my chances. I wish I had not done COBOL and stayed with the skills (what you should be learning at university) that have jobs. I have got 3 years COBOL and someone has 3 years of Java or C or C# etc.. so I am out of the competition when looking for jobs. Don't listen to those that say it don't matter what the language is (because it does), all you have to do is look at the job specs (they generally mention the programming language because it really does matter). I am now hoping to build on those skills at university and then will keep trying to apply for jobs. I am also hoping to do some courses to refresh my knowledge in areas I have neglected over the last three years (which from my experience you don't get from COBOL and my opinion is this language should not be taught at university). Certainly its IT and you have too keep up with recently skills set (that's RECENT!! skills set), but why get into the position I am in and many (I hope not too many) recent graduates may be in. I know this is very negative and may not read well, but COBOL has made it very difficult for me to forward my career and I really don't want this to happen to any other graduate. Basically "COBOL is truly dead" if you look at it from the perspective of your career. Go out there, do the research and see the truth for yourself !!

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