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How Many - COBOL Mainframe Programmers Under 30?

Does anyone have any resources like surveys or papers on how many developers under the age of 30 work on COBOL and the Mainframe?

1) Curious cause I graduated in '96 and my professors told me not to learn it. (Core was Pascal, C, LISP, Assembly)

2) My buddy's little brother is a Freshman and they are learning Java straight up totally ignoring COBOL & the mainframe.

GenX'er
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

In India?

thousands

Daniel Shchyokin
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

It's a little odd right now - there's a bubble of young COBOL programmers out there.

The reason for this was Y2K. Body shops found anybody who could breath, taught them enough COBOL to get by, and threw them at mainframe Y2K projects.

All these young COBOL-only people are now out of work and essentially unemployable.

Unless you're working specifically at a company doing new COBOL development, it's not a language worth spending much time on. Probably worth learning enough to be able to read it, but don't worry about writing it.

Chris Tavares
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Chris wrote, "Unless you're working specifically at a company doing new COBOL development, it's not a language worth spending much time on. Probably worth learning enough to be able to read it, but don't worry about writing it."

There is much more to mainframe programming  than simply learning something about the COBOL programming language.

I use to write mainframe applications using COBOL and I hated it. That said, over the last five years I have received more phone calls from recruiters who are looking for someone who knows how to do mainframe development plus something on the PC side (i.e. Visual Basic) then all other recruiter type phone calls combined. Note: I always tell these recruiters that I am not interested because what they are really looking for is someone who is willing to do lots of maintenance programming.

Having supported several very large software systems (several programming languages and technologies were always part of the picture) in the past, all I will say about this type of work is that it SUCKS big time.  Now having said this, when large consulting firms started laying off their employees guess which type of programmer was able to keep his/her job?

One Programmer's Opinion
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

The company I work for has brought in two classes of college graduates to learn COBOL.  They saw an internal problem with knowledge loss due to retirement and promotion as their core programmers got older - but there was no replacement pool of younger talent.

I imagine this could strike any language that's relied on as heavily as COBOL - certainly in 20 years when the world has moved onto the next big thing there could be a real lack of young JAVA programmers. (okay, unlikely but possible)

Anyway, there's still lots of development going on in the mainframe.  And you have to remember that for crunching numbers there's nothing like a big IBM box.  Look around at any company that's really chomping digits - The Social Security Administration, The IRS, Payroll outsourcing companies, and others.  Most are running on mainframes and most of those are probably running COBOL code.

While its not taught at any college I'm aware of as a living language - it is occasionally taught to business students as a "first and only language" so they can see what programming is like (uh, yeah...).

Anyway, I've come to appreciate some aspects of COBOL - in some ways I really miss a lot of what exists with Python, Perl, C++, and JAVA - but if you just want to process files of data its hard to beat it.

Young Coboler
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

I had a colleague in Saudi who decided that he really needed more money than teaching left him after his child support and alimony payments, and decided that his pot of gold was going to be Y2K programming. Instead of buying a satellite dish he got himself a couple of COBOL books and spent the next year learning to be a programmer. The trouble was you don't learn as fast at fifty as you do at twenty and he still wasn't up to scratch in mid-1999.

So he decided he would go for the next big thing and started to learn to be a web programmer. My boss would receive a copy of the latest "Get Rich quick on the web" book every time Simon popped in from his job on the oilfields, and at one time it really looked as if they were going to go into parntership withe the "Ask a Teacher" website, based on an apparently overwhelmingly successful "Ask a Bulider" site. Luckily for my boss, and unluckily for Simon, everything crashed before he had worked out the intricities of cgi script.

I don't know what he's studying now. If I find out I'll let you know so you can get out of it quick!

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

One programmers opinion wrote..
"Now having said this, when large consulting firms started laying off their employees guess which type of programmer was able to keep his/her job?"

Trick question? I have read that only good people have jobs. I have read only maintenance people have jobs. I have read all maintenance is going overseas. 

J.
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Is 30 now old?  Yikes!  I learned COBOL when I turned 30 and switched careers to IT.  DeVry trained me to be a maintenance COBOL programer and that's what I'm doing...  And I hardly drink a lot ever...

Kero
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

"Trick question?"

I suppose it could be interpreted that way. I was simply trying to make a point that in the business world 70 to 80 percent of all programming work is maintenance work (as opposed to new development work). While companies can put new development work on hold or simply cancel projects that have already started -- they cannot do the same thing with maintenance work (at least not all of it).

"I have read that only good people have jobs. I have read only maintenance people have jobs. I have read all maintenance is going overseas."

Personally, I try to avoid using words such as "only" and "all" when discussing software development issues.

Define "good people" for me. Everyone seems to have their own definition of what those words really mean.

One Programmer's Opinion
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

When I was studying in '95, the major portion of what I was doing was COBOL. I hated it. I had been programming in VB for a couple of years prior to that and found it such a drudge to learn COBOL. I'm 31.

Geoff Bennett
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

I heard he is learning dotnet

Mike
Friday, May 16, 2003

does anyone knows about online documentation for CobolScript - online documentation.
I'm 21 years old student from Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
I need this for a course work (project).

Mariya Bozhilova
Thursday, May 20, 2004

Is there any tutors for Cobol located in the Tampa/Brandon Area?

Reginald Wynn
Monday, May 31, 2004

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