Published by ADT Mag on April 16, 2020
Looking for a Few Good (or Bad, or Ugly) COBOL Programmers
Here’s an unexpected side effect of the pandemic: increased demand for COBOL programmers. The need seems to be particularly acute among states whose unemployment systems were originally written in the decades-old language — systems suddenly tasked with processing a record number of unemployment claims. Estimates vary, but it’s safe to say that there are a couple hundred billion lines of COBOL code currently in use. And it seems to be gumming up the works.
This news should provoke a bit of déjà vu in more than a few IT industry watchers. Remember Y2K? People were calling it the COBOL Programmers’ Re-employment Act, as companies worldwide begged and bribed a virtually retired community to help them make changes to this language nobody seemed to understand anymore.
Meredith Stowell, VP of the IBM Z Ecosystem, wrote about the sudden demand for scarce COBOL expertise in a blog post, in which she also outlined three new initiatives members of the Linux Foundation’s Open Mainframe Project have devised to address the immediate need.
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