Take Advantage of the Mainframe Talent Shortage

Mainframe developers, especially those with COBOL skills, may not get as much attention as, say, app developers — except from a number of employers.

While the development community has been dazzled by opportunities in online and mobile environments, it seems to have forgotten that mainframes still run huge parts of the largest government agencies, financial institutions and even airlines.

A sweeping survey commissioned by Micro Focus in 2009 found that 70 percent of the business and transaction systems around the world run on COBOL, and 90 percent of global financial transactions are processed in COBOL. The language supports over 30 billion transactions per day. The average American still interacts with a COBOL program 13 times a day.

Datasaab D22 mainframe computer

Industry Exodus

The problem is that experienced mainframe programmers are beginning to retire in droves. One industry expert estimates that 500 of the Social Security Administration’s 1,000 COBOL-skilled programmers will be eligible to retire by 2015. Meanwhile, the number of tech professionals trained to replace them is inadequate. Without a proper supply, well: Who’s going to cut Social Security checks when no one’s around to troubleshoot the payment processing mainframe?

Compuware and Wayne State University College of Engineering in Michigan are among the organizations that have developed training courses to address the looming talent shortage. Meanwhile, IBM has created a mainframe developers’ training program that’s now offered at 1,067 schools worldwide.

Government consultant Robert Juch has seen the need first hand. “There’s a significant shortage of specialists right now. I’m working on a contract until the end of next June, but I’m still contacted by recruiters wanting COBOL, DB2, CICS and MQ programmers as well as tech support specialists.”

Damage Control

“There is a really big storm brewing, and we’ve known about it for years,” observes software consultant and contractor Robert Firestone. “If we don’t have mainframe systems supported by people who can support them well, banks, insurance companies and many other large operations are going to continue to have problems. It is way past too late to get started to fix this. All that can happen now is damage control.”

Still, some executives continue to be in the dark. Fred Tetterton, a director of resource management for a company specializing in banking technology solutions, has been stunned by the lack of knowledge. As an example, he cites one conference a couple of years ago where “(some) of the CEOs and top execs at companies I had contracted for as a mainframe expert asked why IBM was holding breakout sessions on COBOL and CICS,” he recalls. “They didn’t even know their own companies were still heavily dependent on this technology.”

But maybe, says Doan James, a technical consultant with nearly 30 years experience, the talent is out there and being overlooked. “Mainframers with 20 years of experience are getting paid the same or less than Web/PC programmers with three to five years of experience,” he says. “Right now there aren’t good incentives for young people to study mainframes. If businesses are really worried, they should hire programmers who are over 50 and attract them with reasonable demands and reasonable pay.”

Make Your Argument

Whether employees are young, middle-aged or geriatric, organizations that use mainframe have to get on the stick. Someone is going to have to do the work that helps keep the government and big business running.

And that, in effect, is what you have to convince potential employers if you’ve got the skills they’ll need. In other words, on top of making the usual arguments about why they should hire you, you have to show them how the lack of people with your skills could impact their business, for the worse.

That puts you in an somewhat awkward position, since critiquing a company you want to work for is a delicate thing. So, some advice:

  • When pointing out how neglected mainframes can harm critical business functions, don’t point fingers at the company — and especially not the managers you meet or their departments. Stay at a higher level. Talk about the overall trends, especially the growing number of retiring experts and the lack of new blood to replace them.
  • Research the industry, especially the role people with your skills play in both its day-to-day operations and long-term success.
  • Show you flexibility and commitment to learning. Like it or not, languages like COBOL get a bad rap. People think they’re arcane and obsolete. So, while you argue for their importance, also demonstrate how you stay current. But be careful here. You don’t want managers to think you’re pitching yourself as a smart developer who happens to know COBOL, and who really just wants get in the door.

Do you work with mainframes? Have other suggestions? Share them in the comments below.

Image: Wikimedia

Comments

  1. BY Mike says:

    Your argument cannot “be made” unless you can schedule an interview. Where lies the problem? With the resume content? With the “over qualification” of the candidate? With HR who perhaps don’t know the first thing about technology except how to use their iPod?

  2. BY David says:

    The hardest part for me, is I live in an area that doesn’t have a plethora of open COBOL jobs, and most of the companies don’t seem willing to allow tele-commuting. I have 4 daughters in various stages of school, and relocation just isn’t an option, and I’m also not willing to be away from them for months at a time.

    • BY JPK says:

      They will. I have just started to see this happening. The work has to get done and the options are narrowing.

  3. BY InTheKnow says:

    Mike has got it right. The worse offenders are in the organizational hiring process. They don’t know Jack Crap about hardware. Give me a burly old brick and mortar hiring manager anytime over the failed psychiatrists that work in HR.
    The other thing readers must take into account is that this is a projected need not a true realization of the present.
    Also you have places like Progressive Insurance that use filters for buzz words on resumes, if you don’t have ninety some percent hit rate your resume never moves forward, never mind the fact it might have been your previous position there during a previous RIF you are applying.
    When I walk into an IT shop, I’m pounding ground with meat swinging. Most are intimidated by my resume or think that because I have several decades in the industry I’m about to fall over from a heart attack, not the case I won’t even be sixy for years! Again see my first statement.
    At this point I have to completely disagree with the argument and simply state the article comes up short, while mainframe and or MicroFocus COBOL may come back, right now unless you have Java and Oracle or God forbid C#, you really have little chance for a position in today’s marketplace.

  4. BY Ken Wagner says:

    I concur with the fault being at the companies HR department. After 2000-3000 applications for computer tech, programming, web design, etc over the last 10 years I have no remorse or sadness for companies that only look at your resume and exclude you because you lack the title they want. There are others like me that have no problem working 60-80 hours or would do anything to prove themselves; but tell what companies offer that. I’m in retail hell and have an associates and certifications, but since I don’t have the title I don’t get interviews. Far too many times have I impressed customers with my knowledge and skills, but I have been told multiple times by managers and recruiters I lack the titles.

    There is no talent shortage for programmers, but there is a shortage of better methods to find them.

    Imagine if these companies with “shortages” were run like sports teams!! No scouts, no workouts, no practices; it would be a disaster.

  5. BY Bob says:

    Don’t worry. Our friends in India will start pumping out COBOL programmers when the price is right. Start posting contract jobs for COBOL developers that pay over $90/hr, you’ll have all the people in the world available.

    • BY Bob says:

      You are right. Where are work that’s already happening. Pretty soon we will all be WalMart greeters. :-

  6. BY I know COBOL says:

    I worked with mainframes but moved to .Net as there were absolutely NO mainframe jobs out there.

  7. BY Bob says:

    I don’t see that many positions available for COBOL and the ones that are offered the company is asking for someonw who knows EVERYTHING. COBOL, JAVA, .NET etc. The only pure COBOL positions are usually 6 month contracts. I wish it would open up more but I fail to see that currently.

  8. BY JohnP says:

    I see an article like this every once in a while. I don’t put much store in it. The Washington, DC area has its share of Cobol jobs, however, it needs to be IBM Cobol or you won’t be considered. There are some Unisys jobs out there, but many of the contracting firms have gone overseas for people, usually India. If I was training to be a programmer I’d stay as far away from Cobol as I could get.

  9. BY anil says:

    I guess there is some truth to some of the comments up here. If only Author could mak this article little authentic by stressing to prospective Employers that “They be open to hire experienced people via Tele-Commucting’, and by providing URLS for the related positions, I am sure the postions will fill up in a hurry.

  10. BY The Heretic says:

    One of the retired Software Engineers that has been helping me to research IT labor market dynamics has eleven years of COBAL experience at a major defense company. We did a couple of experiments using his COBAL experience and the results were in line with the premise that there are severe shortages of COBAL programmers. There are jobs available if you are willing to relocate to some crappy location where wage and living costs are out of sink.

    My friend has an interesting story, when I first met this guy he was NOT putting his COBAL experience on his resume at all. He felt that he had been pidgin holed into old technology and could not make a lateral move. He told me he made the mistake of putting it on an application for a low level Dot.net position in county government. He got a call within a week of filling out the application. Anyone who has ever applied for county jobs knows that type of response is unheard of. They fast tracked him into an interview a week later.

    Apparently, the interview didn’t go well. He was broad sided by all the questions about COBAL. He had after all applied for a mid level Dot.net position. He back peddled and under played his COBAL experience as much as possible. He felt he made it very clear he didn’t want to be a Legacy System Troll. His term not mine. They offered him a COBAL job anyway which he declined, than he suffered thru two more years of job search before landing a Dot.net position that disappeared after six months; project canceled.

    So, we put eleven years of COBAL experience back on his resume to see what would happen. We answered about 20 calls from head hunters from all over the country. After, two or three telephone interviews (head hunter, head hunter, manager) the offers were coming in at $60,000 to $90,000 far short of his old $115,000 salary. The $90,000 only came after he turned down the position three times. I’ve been seeing fairly consistently that there appears to be a relationship between what management by budget managers are willing to pay and what they are offering. It appears that wages have been stagnant and in many cases have gone down. The difference appears to be in line with the amount of the commissions that technical recruiters charge. When I asked one manger directly he said it was better off that way because after a year he gets a big salary reduction.

    I’m about to move on because I’m not getting any feed back here for my research. Am I on the right track? Or not?

    In your opinion, are wages being maintained below the equilibrium price? Or Not?

  11. BY Cobol Programmer says:

    I have tried to find a job programming in Cobol and have three decades of experience. Despite that, nobody calls, the requirements to fill those positions are outrageous. We can run circles around any programmer because we helped build the infrastructure that America has today to support those 90 billion transactions. The job market is flawed, HR or the very same project managers that are clueless about what we can do or not. COBOL is COBOL whether is CICS or any other. Its name is Common Business Language, a standard. America is wasting tons of talent and we have been forgotten left to rot. About relocation, like another poster says, we don’t want to relocate for a temporary job, a low salary or an ugly place to live at. We can telecommute, get a grip on technology dear hiring decision makers and get ready to pay at least 90k a year if not more for our skills. We produce, judge us on productivity and whether you can meet reasonable target dates and within budget providing you have done your homework on the project management field and understand what it takes. It is so disgusting that even the appeal to work in IT again is very remote now after you betrayed us hiring the Indians and other cheaper programmers. What happened, you had to rewrite the crappy code, didn’t you or junk it all together. Shame on you. I have no sympathy left. Could you imagine telling a doctor that he has to work on minimum wage now because there are cheaper doctors in China? I know that we are no doctors but if you have worked in IT for decades, you know a lot about business transactions, project accounting, executive reporting, bar coding, database management, etc, etc. Yet again, we are expendable. They found cheaper slaves. I guess they did not! The nerve!

    • BY monatem says:

      I agree with the comments by “COBOL programmer” above…and “slaves” is the operative term. If you can even find a job, you are expected to work 24/7 until they no longer need you, and then they don’t even give notice anymore.

    • BY Jim Feldman says:

      Your statement that Cobol is Cobol whether it’s CICS or not speaks volumes about your lack of understanding of the langauage. Cobol on it’s own is completely a batch processing oriented language, it’s in combination with CICS and more recently (the last decade) Websphere that Cobol finally offers at least a modern day UI web based appearance for applications. Very few Cobol programmers are skilled in CICS (be it conversational or pseudo-conversational methods), far less have Websphere related experience or are even familiar with the technology; this is without even discussing the RDMS options available for use with these languages, be it DB2, Oracle, Sybase, etc.

      A typical Cobol programmer has none of these other skillsets I am referring to, and typically thinks with a transaction driven top down mindset, not an event driven one; which is fine if you’re only dealing with nightly batch processing. Any competent .Net, C, or, JAVA programmmer can produce 10x the number of viable applications in the same amount of time that a single Cobol/CICS application can be written, I know because I am an expert in all of these technologies and have consulted globally for 15+ years, the real issue is that the pay would have to be extreme for me to abandon the productivity of modern day languages to return to a prehistoric unchallenging platform such as Cobol – most other professionals I know with similar skill sets feel the same way.

      • BY Guy Rich says:

        Mr. Feldman, I take extreme umbrage regarding your comment “..A typical Cobol programmer has none of these other skillsets ..”
        You sir are totally WRONG!! I don’t know what environment you work in, but based on YOUR comments it is an extremely limited one.
        I’ve been in Information Technonlogy for over 30 years now. I can certaintly testify that there are
        indeed very many COBOL programmers that do possess skills such as CICS programming,
        IMS and DB2 as well as Oracle and Sybase, IDMS, WebLogic, WebSphere MQ etc.
        You would do well to insure that your brain is engaged before putting your ‘mouth’ into gear.

        Guy Rich

      • BY Linnie says:

        As a well-experienced and currently working COBOL CICS programmer: Yes, in fact, COBOL *is* COBOL – whether you’re reading input from a screen via CICS or reading input via a file or a DB. Is COBOL still COBOL if your I/O is DB2, by your logic? Yes, there are some differences if you’re processing one iteration as opposed to batch, but the language, syntax and basic structure are the same. Jeez.

  12. BY Bill Tate says:

    My beef is with the employers who want RECENT COBOL. I have 33 years of COBOL, CICS (20+ years), IMS/DB (18 years) and DB2/SQL (6 years). Even though I haven’t done any of these since November 2006, it’s not like I’ve forgotten how to code using any of those.

  13. BY Bernard Johnson says:

    “Meanwhile, the number of tech [COBOL] professionals trained to replace them is inadequate. Without a proper supply, well: Who’s going to cut Social Security checks when no one’s around to troubleshoot the payment processing mainframe?”

    India of course, silly question.

  14. BY P Bailey says:

    When I first saw this article I thought it was a joke. There are literally tuns of thousands of unemployed COBOL programmer looking for work. If these organizations can’t find anyone they are complete idiots.

    • BY C Melbye says:

      I agree with the above comment. Total LAZINESS on the part of these industries… but then we know that because they did not migrate to current platforms YEARS ago. I used to be a Cobol programmer but knew I had to adapt to remain viable. These days, Cobol talent is all but an oxymoron….

      • BY C Melbye says:

        I also agree with other comments here. The people staffing most companies’ HR departments are clueless children and should be treated as such. The place to find jobs is on LinkedIn where you can connect with intelligent people, not HR buffoons.

    • BY Liz says:

      I’m a highly experienced COBOL mainframe programmer who has desperately been looking for a COBOL programming job for 2 years now since being “work force reduced” (i.e., my job went to China and India). I have not found many and those I have found will not allow one to telecommute and require relocation at my expense (or be local), which I can’t afford (since I am out of work). There are absolutely none of these kinds of jobs within 3 hours of where I live. Why is it someone with little experience can telecommute from India but someone with a lot of experience cannot telecommute from the US???? That makes absolutely no sense to me. If I could telecommute I would even work for what they are paying the India people because I desperately need the job, and SOME money is more than NO money! I think there are others that would also work for a reduced rate just to have a job. I think businesses are really missing the boat on this by not taking advantage of the good experienced people in the US in need of a job. At my last job, they were required to have a certain percentage of offshore workers.

      • BY Aldridge says:

        I agree with the statement above, I have been looking for work also and no one wants to allow telecommuting, most opportunities in my field is outside of Atlanta. Surprising that even fortune 50 companies are not allowing this to happen. Considering the technology available they refuse telecommuting, yet in most of these companies most of their call center are offsite. Is that not telecommuting??. At my last job it was a battle to allow telecommuting, then once we were allowed to do it, they worked great. Some selling points were – no need for an office, telephone, terminal and all the connections. Imagine what would be save by allowing telecommuting, maybe even buildings, parking lots gas etc.

  15. BY Mike says:

    Sensitive subject, innit?

    Here’s a CoBOL related personal anecdote.

    Some years ago I worked for a company that processed data submitted “in any manner and format” from clients involved in a variety of businesses. One client submitted a record layout for evaluation. Of the other programmers on staff, none could make heads-or-tails of the layout; a very VB, MS centric lot were they.

    In desperation our boss sent the layout to me. One glance at the layout told me all I needed to know: CoBOL. I told the boss. A technical genius in his own mind he told me I was wrong. He consulted with some friends outside of the company. They told him I was correct.

  16. BY Guy Rich says:

    The so-called ‘shortage’ of mainframe programmers is due to the following:
    1) Age discrimination No major firm wants to hire people in their 50′s much less 60′s.

    2) ‘Gate-keeper’ HR types, while I’m sure they’re very nice people, the overwhelming majority
    of them have no clue as to how to evaluate a programmer’s resume. What makes matters
    worse is the use of resume scanning software,

    3) These companies try to replace the person who left based on thier skill set.
    This becomes a real problem wheh the skill set calls for experience in software tools
    that are unique or not widely used across the industry.
    They forget that really good programmer’s can pick these skills up very easily.

    4) Failure to ‘think outside the box’ i.e. letting telecommuting be a viable option.
    I’ve been a contract consultant over 20 years. Most of the projects I’ve worked on have been
    ‘on site’. Yet when I get there, I sit in a cubilcle in fornt of a workstationn all day, an execpt
    for meetings rarely see anyone. I can do the exact same thing from home. Now given the fact
    that most of the country is wired into broadband fibre-optic backbones, and with all sorts of
    online meeting tools available there’s no excuse NOT to make more use of telecommuting.
    It saves money too. I always offer a cheaper rate if I can telecommute.

    5) Failure to take advantage of contract programmers.
    Get off the ‘employee’ paradigm. WHY ‘hire’ a person, then have to be responsible for benefit
    packages. Now I know the IRS has it’s ‘twenty question test’, but all you have to do is create a situation that meets the criteria.. It’s NOT that difficult.

    • BY Liz says:

      Agree with this comment 100%! Hit ALL the nails on the head!

    • BY The Heretic says:

      excellent post

    • BY monatem says:

      Very good points, all

    • BY RR says:

      Well said!
      Your statement about ageism
      ‘Age discrimination No major firm wants to hire people in their 50′s much less 60′s.’
      really sticks out.
      I’ve been in IT for 12 years, and wonder what my future holds as I get older.

      Corporations continue to lie saying there are shortages etc.., when really they just want to have cheap foreigners come in.

      • BY k4dwood says:

        Age discrimination is real. I was a computer programmer who went into teaching. A wonderful, fantastic teacher I know was “laid off”, and had to interview to get a new assignment. No school picked her. She couldn’t understand what she was doing wrong. She was even bilingual (Spanish) in a school district with lots of Spanish speaking students. I said, maybe it’s age discrimination. She said that yes, actually the people she saw also waiting for interviews were in their late 20′s/early 30′s. She is mid 50′s.

    • BY OsamaBinLogin says:

      1) yes
      2) yes
      3) yes
      4) yes
      5) yes

  17. BY k4dwood says:

    Well, maybe I’ll start researching COBOL jobs. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  18. BY ExperienceRules says:

    The following comments are aimed at large IT shops like those mentioned in the article.

    I’ve been in the IT business for over 40 years and this article is right on. As I see it, the problem is self-inflicted. 20 or more years ago, some ‘industry guru’ said COBOL is dead.

    A whole bunch of IT managers drank the Kool-Aid and bought into this idea. They started looking for alternative languages and jumped on whatever what the newest fad. They paid no attention to efficency of the language or the ability to scale for large shops.

    As they blindly stumbled down this road, the demand for COBOL skills began to dwindle. That, in turn, affected colleges that offered COBOL education. They saw the enrollment drop as students tried to position themselves for the “new world.” As the stream of trained individuals dried up, companies experienced difficulties in finding new COBOL programmers. This led them to assume that no one wanted to program in COBOL any longer so they pushed harder to get away from COBOL.

    So by listening to someone who said “COBOL is dead”, companies discouraged people from entering into the COBOL programming marketplace. Then they stated they needed to get off of COBOL because they were having difficulties hiring new COBOL programmers.

    Now there’s this vacuum that needs to be filled. Some companies and schools have had the light come on and have begun to revitalize the COBOL career field. Kudos to them!

    I have a friend who works at a company that has been trying to replace a functioning COBOL system with a Windows-based solution. The prototype worked well but they were told that it would not scale; as they added more and more districts, the system wouldn’t be able to handle the workload.

    I think they are 5 or 6 years into the project, have dumped tons of money into it and have just under 2% of their workload using it. The remaining 98% of the business still runs through the old COBOL system. If the money and effort spent were put into redesigning and refining the existing sytem, I suspect they would have met the business requirements for 100% of the business. There would probably been money left over to set up and run their own COBOL training program too!

    Unfortunately, until the decision makers understand that COBOL, CICS, DB2 and the other mainframe products can and will do the job at a much lower per-transaction cost, resources will still be focused in the wrong areas.

  19. BY Gary B says:

    I fear going back to COBOL because of industry practices, stability and the threat of off-shoring. I have been developing for 20+ years and was strictly COBOL for the first 10 to 12 years and some Micro Focus Cobol on the server side for a few years. When I had the opportunity I switched over to VB and ASP back in the early 2000′s . Then later became a PL/SQL developer.

    Back in 2009 our company went through some major layoffs and I was one that was let go. They brought me back in a couple months later but during my time on severance I was searching for another job. I talked to some recruiters and they saw I had COBOL on my resume still and told me to remove it. I was told there are no COBOL jobs in the United States any more. That COBOL was all done off-shore now. Most of the COBOL programmers I know during this same time period were struggling severely to find a job. Some took short contract work for $25/hour without benefits for State Government jobs simply because it was better than unemployment and they had been laid off for a year or more. Others lost their jobs to Off-Shore companies as well.
    I am now in my early 50s but even though I still have many years to work it gets tougher and tougher to find jobs so I don’t see a reason to start contracting around or getting on with a company unless they are going to employee me for a long time.
    I know the IT industry is never a stable long term employment opportunities. We are always subject to overhead cost reductions since we are all overhead. Even when I worked for IBM and was their Resource it was still regulated by costs and competition with Offshore.
    So, unless the COBOL jobs are going to pay a great deal and have some glimmer of stability then I don’t see a mass exodus into that market. But that is my opinion.

    • BY The Heretic says:

      Perceptions of COBOL’s demise were certainly a factor, but that is not the mechanism that caused COBOL worker shortages. Shortages only occur when prices are maintained below the equilibrium price. Wage stagnation by management by budget managers doing more with less caused these shortages. They froze the wages where they wanted them knowing that legacy system workers would get pidgin holed because of extreme specialization and they got away with it for a period of time.

      In the mean time market forces dictated that new entrants move to what they perceived to be higher paying jobs in dot.net. Now the pidgin holed extreme specialists are retiring and there is nothing in the pipe line to replace them. It’s an empty cylinder. So, rather then fix the actual problem by letting the market fix float, the same incompetent managers who failed to maintain their own supply chain are looking for other solutions.

      Like the crony capitalist they are, they want government bail outs, education subsidies, and government sanctioned cheep imported labor. They want any solution that allows them to continue pidgin holing anyone foolish enough to think this is a positive career move while continuing to suppress wages below the cost of education. There are two real victims here; the tax payer flipping the bill and the workers who have to eat the opportunity costs plus actual costs plus living expenses.

      It is a win win for the managers or is it. Infinity cannot exist in a closed environment period the end. Where is the government going to find the money to pay for all this? It is not going to continue for ever.

      What does this mean to the extreme specialists with the pedigree? It means the pidgin holing is over and it is time to temporarily push wages way up above the equilibrium price ($150K). It is time to break the impaction and fill the pipe line with new applicants.

      Waaaaa, they can’t find workers! Waaaaa, they can’t afford training! Waaaaa, India doesn’t produce enough to meet their needs! Waaaaa, they cannot get foreign workers fast enough to meet their demand! Waaaa, the government is limiting the flow! Waaaaa, the government is not helping them run their businesses for them!

      It is crony capitalism at its finest. The free market needs to be restored and that means $250,000 for “the pedigree”. The more the pedigree’s move around the more pain they will inflict. Pain equals money. The more pedigree’s that retire and pull their skills off the market the more pain they will inflict. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. There is only one way to show respect in a capitalist society and that is with money. These employers with their do more with less philosophy are very disrespectful. Get a pair of ball you are going to need them; the gold rush is on, but the free market needs to be restored before new entrants should even consider jumping in the pipe line. There is nothing like debt and an impacted labor market to teach you to choose wisely.

  20. BY monatem says:

    I keep hearing about the mainframe “talent shortage”. And I’m a well qualified consultant. If there’s a “talent shortage” then why is it so difficult to find work? I’m a consultant, I’m always looking for work, and, ok, I’m not perfect, but I know how to go about it. And trust me, in my area, it’s tough. I’ve kept working by temporarily relocating, and I am no longer willing to do this. And other people have validated my perception about the mainframe job market. It isn’t just me. I think part of the problem is the recruitment process. The majority of recruiters have no knowledge of the jobs they are recruiting for, so they cannot possibly match appropriate candidates with jobs they are a fit for.

    • BY OsamaBinLogin says:

      “The majority of recruiters have no knowledge of the jobs they are recruiting for, so they cannot possibly match appropriate candidates with jobs they are a fit for.”

      I agree. I always ask for a job description; no other way to tell. They always want to BS on the phone. So I get the JD and there’s all these keywords that imply Java Enterprise (J2EE) but it never comes right out and says J2EE (cuz each one of these areas is a closed religion and everybody in it thinks their lingo is common english). I’ve sent them page-long lectures on some of these areas and the buzzwords and what they mean, and what goes/doesnt go with what. Honestly, it’s hard for even us to keep up. Look em up in Wikipedia.

      Or there’ll be a JD that says “5 years of Python required”. and I say I’ve got more like 5 months, no this won’t work. Although I have everything else. Then they get me on the phone and convince me that the whole 5 year thing is no big deal. OK, go ahead, I say, submit my resume but I don’t think anything will become of it. which is what happens. (Unless he gets on the phone with the employer and convinces them that really I have 3 years and i’m a really smart guy. I’ve been on phone interviews like this where we decide, it’s just not a fit.)

  21. BY R Dangerfield says:

    COBOL programmers have gotten very little respect for the last 20+ years so I hope everyone with COBOL experience moves on to something else.

    • BY monatem says:

      That is absolutely correct…to say we are treated badly is an understatement. I think lots of people with COBOL skills are just giving up the business. Perhaps that’s another reason for the “talent shortage”.

    • BY monatem says:

      I agree. To say COBOL programmers are treated badly is a major understatement. I think a lot of people have just thrown up their hands and gotten out of the business altogether because they can’t find work and they are tired of being expected to work 24/7 for mediocre pay (which has gone down in the last decade, BTW). Another factor contributing to the “talent shortage”.

  22. BY MICROFOCUS COBOLPROGRAMMER says:

    From the previous posts, I see that some people have been able to move to new technologies. I certainly like to know how you did it. Although I have programmed in COBOL for more than 2 decades, the majority of my experience has been non mainframe work. In fact I started out as a Wang VS COBOL porgrammer. After that I became a Unix Microfocus COBOL programmer, working on several large scale applications for nearly 2 decades. I agree COBOL is COBOL, but when I do get the rare call for mainframe work, the conservation is cut short when I discuss my background. I have even attended IBM training at my own expense, but to no avail.

    As for new technologies, I have also attended several classes and seminars on Java and .NET, but have been unable to find employment to gain the experience everyone is asking for.

    • BY The Heretic says:

      Moving into the new technologies can be done, but the opportunity costs are very expensive; two years, eight or more hours per day working on your own projects for no pay and the technology has a tendency to blow past you while you are learning the previous technology. The cycle is only three years. That gives you a one year window. Once you get there you will have to donate half your salary in opportunity costs to stay relevant and you have to repeat it every single year. When you do the math it’s just not worth the effort at current rates and the costs/risks are all on you so the employer doesn’t care if they are reasonable. The cost benefit analysis just doesn’t add up and that is why the shortages exist. Sure the jobs are there but so are the obstacles to get them.

      In my opinion you’re in a better place with a stable technology, but the labor market entry costs in all the IT disciplines are so high they prevent movement and movement equals more money. The employers thru their agents are controlling your movement by keeping these market entry costs high and their current work force anemic living paycheck to paycheck. It is working for them and they see no reason to change until they don’t have a choice.

      There are a lot of opportunities for your skill set, but they tend to be government jobs and austerity is suppressing wages in the public sector, too. The problem in all the IT labor markets is management perception. They have a group of pidgin holed extreme specialists retired on the job and when they leave they cannot replace them at the same rate they maintained the previous employee at for decades. Then they have to face the reality that the labor pipe line is almost empty.

      There is a push in government for education subsidies, but there is a better way to create and free up private sector jobs that will benefit your pedigree directly. Instead of spending money on education subsidies spend the money on higher government wages for IT workers and shut down the visa programs. The sucking sound will be talent leaving the private sector in mass causing shortages and breaking the impaction. Currently, government positions are not paying enough to compete with the private sector.

      Producing students that no one wants to hire is a waste of tax payer money. It is an exercise in futility. You have to break the impaction first and the private sector doesn’t want to be held accountable for their failed labor policies, but it is going to happen eventually.

      • BY Winston says:

        You write, and I quote: “Moving into the new technologies can be done, but the opportunity costs are very expensive”.

        Moving into the mobile field has a lower barrier to entry. I’m a 61yo guy, and was twiddling my thumbs. I started out in mainframes, moved to Unix boxes, thence to PCs and thence to device-independent applications. But with nothing to do and essentially no money (another story, don’t play the gold-platinum spread unless you know what you’re doing and are willing to take small losses to prevent catastrophic ones), I picked up a book on Android programming and developed a couple of apps. I was able to parlay this into a job.

        I think my story may be useful to others. This might entail learning a new language (Java for Android folks, Objective-C for iOS), but there are a fair amount of resources to help you with this. You don’t, however, need to go super-deep, and you can get up to speed relatively quickly on the frameworks. Develop anything – if you need ideas, go the the Apple or Android store. In this case it’s not a sin to duplicate someone else’s work; just make it look different from the UI perspective. But BE SURE you publish any apps you develop to the appropriate store (you’ll need to pay a small fee – in addition you’ll have to pony up $99 to become a registered Apple developer if you want to develop iOS apps). The best thing you can do is become someone who can develop apps on both Android and iOS. Lastly, look into HTML5/CSS3 if you want to develop device-independent apps. I have not written any of these last, but have been told that they are even easier to develop than native ones

        I would suggest that you not bill yourself as a senior-level mobile developer; instead I’d suggest you demonstrate your apps to a prospective employer and label yourself intermediate-level.

        Good Luck!

    • BY OsamaBinLogin says:

      I concur; it is very hard to switch technologies. I started out as a GUI C/C++ programmer and wanted to move into web dev. After catching some work for my own private projects in Perl and PHP, and jumping thru various hybrid jobs like web-server-side C++, client-side JS and C++, I landed a job doing straight web dev in LAMP, Python and JS. Didn’t know Python but learned on the job (this was back when python was more obscure). They finally fired me cuz I was too marginal – not enough webdev experience.

      Fell back to LAMP/PHP and it went OK for a while, but PHP sucks really as a language. Tried to move into Ruby on Rails, but after investing about a year of on-my-own time into it, and about 20 f2f interviews over several years, I never got a Ruby job – always PHP. I’ve since decided Ruby people are arrogant and nobody is good enough for them. But now Python has passed me by and everybody’s asking for an expert. I’ve also tried Drupal (runs in PHP) but it’s huge and again I’m behind the curve.

      I knew Java long ago but J2EE has way way passed me by – too many ‘new’ add-ons you have to keep up with and it’s been 1.5 decades for Java.

      They don’t want to teach you or to pay for you learning on your own. They want you to be already experienced. which is chickenandegg of course. Maybe the best is to latch on to a technology early when employers are willing to hire inexperienced people. Like, there ain’t no people with 5 years experience in it cuz it’s only been around for 4 years and only popular for 2 years. Then study like hell on the weekends, while you stumble along at work and get up to speed, and your wife divorces you. And start out with broad experience in ‘similar’ things like if it’s a new programming language, it helps to have lots of other programming languages under your belt.

      At least I know I’m not alone.

  23. BY Bill Janulin says:

    I have been in the job market for almost two years now, looking for projects, etc. I think the issue stems from compensation. If there is a talent shortage, I have not seen it as yet.

  24. BY TerryCOBOL/MVSXA/ALC says:

    Anyone looking for a COBOL VSAM, CICS please let me know. Sounds like there is still a lot of people with the skill set.
    Microfocus too!

  25. BY max moose says:

    Utter nonsense. I have an M.S. in Computer Science and decades of earlier successful experience with COBOL, DB2 and CICS. No one has even looked at my resume for mainframe skills in the past 6 years, and the more remote the mainframe experience, the lower the likelihood — already almost nill — that anyone will be interested. Recruiters tell me they get hundreds of resumes for any rare mainframe spot that opens, and any spot that does requires precise knowledge of a 3rd party product like Peoplesoft. By contrast. just the words “PHP” or “JAVA” get
    me an avalanche of responses.

    • BY The Heretic says:

      I think you are defining the problem incorrectly. You are probably not getting past the key word searches and you have two more layers to go.

      Try this take every acronym and every technical term you have ever used and past them in a resume. You don’t care what it looks like or even if it makes sense because SQL doesn’t care. You have to get past resume mills to get on the technical recruiter call lists. A technical recruiter working off a call list is not going to see your resume and the first thing they ask for is a CURRENT resume like something has change since the previous night when you posted it.

      That is what is happening with “PHP” and “JAVA”. The key words are putting the resume on a call list. Now you have to deal with the recruiters. They are going to waste your time in ways you never thought possible. Time is money and they will drive the cost of job search up so high that most people just stay where they are at and that works for the people that hire them. It is not unusual to find 20 recruiters trying to fill the same position.

      They are commissioned sales people that don’t get paid unless they find someone. Excessive profits breed ruinous competition and they receive a portion of a $25,000+ dollar commission. They are aggressive. They are annoying. They run false listings. They lie. They control 96% of the listings so you have to get past them.

      I suggest not talking to them on the phone initially. Give them a contact email and auto reply them a request for the listing they supposedly are trying to fill. You can now cut the crap by deleting the ones you are not interested in and email the ones you are interested in from another email account. Getting 20 calls in a day can decimate your productivity so never give your cell or work number.

      You have to control job search costs anyway you can; time, effort, and money. Keep track of the costs or they will get away from you every time. Employers and their agents have no comprehension of how expensive jumping thru their hoops can be. IT IS ALL ON YOU, so they don’t care. They only pay technical recruiters for people they actually hire.

      • BY Guy Rich says:

        A very lucid point indeed

      • BY max moose says:

        You apparently don’t have many years of experience. I really don’t care about this recruiter vs. that recruiter. The point is there is almost NO interest in mainframe skills anywhere. Most astonishing to me was when an IBM Corp. recruiter (a contractor) recently tried to recruit me — for $15 an hour, My last
        IBM gig — even through a subccontractor, worked out to about 10K a month.
        When IBM itself values mainframe skills at almost nothing, it’s time to get the message.

        As for PHP, that is something I can do through my own LLC. You don’t need a brain to do PHP or JAVA. Any recruiter that calls has to show me what he can do for me.

        In the interest of disclosure, I don’t really care about it an more. I am in law school p/t, and will only do web programming if it fits my schedule.

        I don’t know who is out there, but if you have any brains, IT is not the place to be
        anymore. I am not saying I was not happy writing new pieces to the VM operating system in REXX and Assembler, and God knows IBM and Wall Street offered me the world years ago — but that world is gone.

        Folks, take your smarts and apply them to an exploding field like medicine, even law —- something that stays relevant because it has to do with real life.

      • BY The Heretic says:

        Max, It is not this recruiter vs that recruiter. It is not any particular recruiter. It is recruiters in aggregate and more precisely it is there business model that is problematic.

        In addition, there are companies that capture job listing feeds from big companies and they use them to run job ads collecting personal data to sell. I know that Lockheed was having a problem with this for a while and my web sites are getting hit by crawlers looking of useful data feeds all the time. I’ll bet dice knows a thing or two about these nefarious business models, also.

        You spend an hour or two filling out their on line applications under false pretenses and never here a thing, but your phone start ringing 20 times a day and your email fills with spam. It is real easy to get discouraged by the apparent rejection, but the fact is you have been scammed and the company never received your resume. These nefarious businesses are driving the cost of job search up under false pretence. Head hunters running false ads are another similar problem that affects your perception of the labor market.

        The hiring managers themselves can be a problem. I see there is a position at Lockheed Martin in Arlington. If you want that job and are willing to move I’m going to tell you how to get it.

        Find an online yellow page site for Arlington and find a mail box place. Call them on the phone and get a box for a month. I’m sorry but you are going to have to put some money on a credit card, but that is unfortunately the labor market you are in. Now go directly to their official Lockheed site and put the address of the mail box place (not the po box) on their online application and the resume you give them.

        I know for a fact that many of the mangers and HR departments filter out resumes and applications that are not local. This one simple strategy will increase the probably of your getting an interview by a ten fold. Just try it; you might be surprised in a good way. If you have the pedigree all you have to do is get past the HR people. So cut & paste there job requirements using their exact words and rearrange them to make sense.

        This is the kind of crap you have to do to keep job search costs down. A few well placed resumes are better then placing it on a resume mill and waiting to see what happens.

      • BY max moose says:

        Mr. Heretic, I am not getting across, somehow, how it worked when it was working. IBM managers would call me directly and say, for example, we have so many hundred hours owed to a big firm in NJ, and they need someone who can invent an integrated environment on CMS using PROFS and the program products they want installed. Or. someone very close to hiring managers on Wall
        Street would call me when they knew of a need from a private converstaion.

        The phone jockeys you refer to as “recruiters” never even see the meaningful requirements. Unless one can show you he can actually do something big for you, don’t waste your time with them.

        I have seen some other comments on the board that ring true. Over-50 discrimination is rampant and overt. A buddy emailed me the other day to say he took early retirement at 50, and it hit me how absurd it was to try to get a job with the same companies that are paying people hundreds of thousands of dolllars each to get lost at age 50.

        If there is any “demand” for COBOL folks, it is for folks in their 20′s who will work for $12 an hour. Don’t infer from the article above that the laws of supply and demand are at work — at least within the U.S.

        One real evil that needs addressing is credit discrimination. This is really just traditional forms of discrimination in disguise — some groups have lower credit profiles in the aggregate. The EEOC has filed some law suits, but action by Congress is what is really needed.

        I hope no one is lured into wasting their time because of misleading articles such as this.

        • BY Why No Mainframe Skills Options says:

          EXACTLY ….. For someone like me as well, over age 50, who has over 35 years of professional COBOL / RPG programming experience ….. unless the writer of the article can set up a job interview with someone who might hire me …… then I think that the article is full of “bull crap” ….. but again …… set me up with a real job interview ….. and I’ll rethink my feelings towards the person(s) who wrote the article. Any questions???

      • BY The Heretic says:

        Max, you and I are not in disagreement. Developers and engineers are prototypers building things that didn’t exist before they came along. The head hunter business model is not suited for finding prototypers. It never has been. It is better suited for stealing employees for a competitor through agency.

        You were a go to guy at IBM. I get that. You have a proven track record as a prototyper. I get that, too. If you are making the argument that managers in general don’t manage their supply chain. I’m with you. The fact is that you devoted yourself to extreme specialization and paid all the costs associated with that decision expecting to work long enough to recuperate that investment.

        Katona’s rule states that, “Managers don’t appreciate what they are not paying for.” They didn’t pay the education costs associated with you achieving your extreme specialty; consequently they don’t appreciate your sacrifice. You did sacrifice your career for them by sticking around past the shelf life of the technology, but in their minds you should consider your sacrifice a sunk cost and write it off discarded.

        They want you to move on while they externalize the same costs on to the next generation of extreme specialists; business as usual. One problem, who will fix the lingering technology? The problem with hiring the old timers, over 40 in this industry, is their life experiences. Externalizing managers have to fear that the old timers will teach the new kids coming up to watch out for there externality and demand reimbursement up front in the form of much higher wages. Externality is stealing and they don’t want to be caught. It will tarnish their reputation as nice guys and “job creators”. Lol Engineers create jobs, managers are overhead.

        You are absolutely right that they are low balling the legacy system trolls of Dilbert fame. The same trolls they have abuses for years and now need back to keep their aging infrastructure going. It is quite a conundrum.

        The more sociopathic mangers see the labor market they created as a means of extracting cheep labor. The management by budget folks sees it as an opportunity to recapture recruiter commissions and get a wage reduction after a year. They both seem to be ignoring there own history and are doubling down by tenderizing the trolls they NEED back to get an abusive wage. I’ll bet that retired on the job and passive aggressive people have to choose from are a real headache to deal with. Work one hour (even at $15 per hour) gets paid for eight. One has to wonder whether it is worth it, because hostile work environments are hostile for both management and labor.

        I think I get it. Man is one of the few animals that prey on their own kind.

        Heresy you say, well all great truths begin as blasphemy.

      • BY max moose says:

        Mr. Heretic — you may be over-analyzing things. I suspect this is not the first time in your life you have been told this.

        It is probably human nature for the young to be dismissive of the old. At any rate, a manager of 25 or 35 or 45 years of age does not want a guy of 60 around who who knows a lot more than him/her about his/her own job. Yes, there are also practical considerations like health care costs and salary expectations.

        IBM bore the cost of my specialization, not me. My M.S. was essentially free, between social security benefits (which existed at the time but don’t any more),
        tuition waivers and teaching stipends. I brought BAL, PL/I and other raw knowledge to IBM, they gave me VM systems – hardware and software – to play with. I am not sure what a “go to” guy was at IBM, but I was pleased to be offered a spot at the Watson research center at Yorktown Heights, only a couple of years out of grad school.

        To me, what I brought to the table was creativity. BAL and REXX and all that were just the language I created in. Hence, if my manager wanted something that made two big coupled processors have the same user id’s on both machines if either went down, I was asked to invent it. There was a building full of people who knew BAL, REXX, VM/CMS, DIRMAINT and even CP/CMS internals. There wasn’t a building full of people with imagination.

        Let me illustrate in a way that sounds way too flattering to me. A guitarist like Eric Claption, or my own teacher, Jorma Kaukonen from Hot Tuna and Jefferson Aitrplane, isn’t paid for his knowledge of notes and licks, which can be duplicated by a bright high school kid. They are paid for the sounds they produce with that “language” — particularly when they solo and create something that didn’t exist before (or perhaps write a song). Anyone can acquire knowledge. Not everyone can use it creatively. And someone who is creative enough — a John Lennon, say, does not even need that much technical knowledge (although Lennon’s was constantly growing),

        There are few firms of long standing today interested in technical creativity. If you are innovative, you move to Silicon Valley and become entrepreneurial.
        IBM simply isn’t hatching ideas like “Facebook.”

        For you, Mr. Heretic, if you love producing verbiage to explain or rationize things, devoid of any quantitative basis or mathematical viability — law school is definitely the place for you!

  26. BY Jim Feldman says:

    Cobol on it’s own is completely a batch processing oriented language, it’s in combination with CICS and more recently (the last decade) Websphere that Cobol finally offers at least a modern day UI web based appearance for applications. Very few Cobol programmers are skilled in CICS (be it conversational or pseudo-conversational methods), far less have Websphere related experience or are even familiar with the technology; this is without even discussing the RDMS options available for use with these languages, be it DB2, Oracle, Sybase, etc.

    A typical Cobol programmer has none of these other skillsets I am referring to, and typically thinks with a transaction driven top down mindset, not an event driven one; which is fine if you’re only dealing with nightly batch processing. Any competent .Net, C, or, JAVA programmmer can produce 10x the number of viable applications in the same amount of time that a single Cobol/CICS application can be written, I know because I am an expert in all of these technologies and have consulted globally for 15+ years.

    All this said, the pay would have to be extreme for me to abandon the productivity of modern day languages to return to a prehistoric unchallenging platform such as Cobol – most other professionals I know with similar skill sets feel the same way.

    • BY Liz says:

      Hmmmm….then I must definitely be in the minority. I have done LOTS of online COBOL and PL/1 programming, both with IMS and CICS onlines – and all versions of DB2 so years and years of DB2 experience, including DB2 and IMS DBA. Have also done some programming of interface from CICS to client/server applications. Just a few minutes ago I received an email from a recruiter looking for IMS and DB2 skillset – but SYSTEMS programming, not application programming…and it’s in Richmond, VA – 5 hours from where I live. So it seems all he saw was DB2/IMS, not realizing that systems and application programming are entirely different. But still, seems no company is willing to let a US worker telecommute, no matter what skillset!

      • BY Guy Rich says:

        Liz , Mr. Feldman is one of those pompus ‘know it all’ individuals that from time to time one encounters in our field. they’re are best left to their own devices, and in my experience (31 years)
        given enough rope they always hang themselves.

      • BY monatem says:

        Liz, me too…I’ve done lots of CICS, DB2, MQ, and plenty of work with Websphere. I have also worked (not extensively but a bit) with Unix and Oracle.

    • BY Jim S says:

      Only 15+ years experience ! That means you started just before the change of the century. Jim, you ought to know there are tons of technicians out there who have 30+ more years than you who have laid the technical foundation of what you call regard as your career. Show a bit more respect and pray the market doesn’t turn against you like it has for so many of us.

  27. BY Donna says:

    I have been out of work for over 2 years. There are no mainframe jobs. I have been in the field for over 20 yrs. I have COBOL and RPG and can not find a job.

  28. BY Cobol Programmer says:

    I am completely disgusted with the IT market. It is a rip off for American Programmers but a paradise for Indians and others that come here to steal our jobs. The fact of the matter is that we have never been respected anywhere because we are overhead. Disgusting overhead. The unwanted ones and I don’t care what skill set you have. Nobody likes you. Why? Because there is a tremendous lack of competency on Project Management skills nationwide. Project Managers have a tight budget and completion dates and the pass the crap down to the developers and the pressure is immense due to their oversight. Concerning wages, they are used to rip us off, especially recruiters. Here, I hire a plumber or and electrician, carpenter, what have you and they have the nerve to charge $80+ an hour but programmers that have way more education, skills and experience, get $50 or $80k a year approximately. A great rip off. It will be hard for me to go back to the industry. I am pissed off! We mean nothing to an employer but a big overhead sign on our foreheads. We get no respect! If I could do it again, I would have gone to the health care field and stay there. I wasted my professional life in IT. Truly! Never again! I would rather eat beans until I die in order to survive than to submit to inconsiderate project managers and recruiters.

    • BY Liz says:

      You are completely correct on this one! At my last job, we were referred to as “resources”, not people or team members. Plenty of reason to feel worthless. They can get a few Indians and Chinese with far less experience to do the same job….yeah, right. It was quite demeaning.

      I have known several people I worked with that have gotten out of programming entirely. One of them went back to school and became a nurse when he was in his late 40s. A few of them have gone into quality assurance as testers, so no more coding for them. Another is now a teacher. I was just trying to hang in there until I could retire, but the company had different ideas to get rid of the older workers. Nearly all of the people I worked with that were WFR’d were over 50….and had plenty of COBOL experience.

    • BY monatem says:

      COBOL Programmer, I completely agree with you. Mainframe programmers now have the stress and hours of doctors, with wages less than blue color wokers, and respect less than sanitation workers. In NY City, where I live, live in nannies make $90,000 and up (with free housing) which is more than most programmers get now. I have been very tempted to apply to one of these jobs.

      • BY MDSanborn says:

        Serioously? You think project managers determine the budget? They are nothing more than a resource themselves.

        • BY monatem says:

          MDSanborn, I believe your comments are in reply to COBOL Programmer above, not to my comments. However, you did put your reply under mine…(not intentionally I believe).

  29. BY If Article Is True Hire Me And Others says:

    I challenge the author of this article, to prove that facts presented are “true”. I see so many comments that other “Mainframe Programmers” (and myself) have been unemployed for years now. If there are employeers who truly need us “old farts” with “mainframe skills”, since we provide an e-mail, then either connect those of us who have skills with the employeers who are seeking those of us with the needed skills, or, this article is a bunch of crap. Please help connect the people and the companies who need us together (make this article a “truth”), or, please ban the writer(s) of this article for posting “false information”. Get the picture???

  30. BY Why No Mainframe Skills Options says:

    OK ….. Let’s see if the writer and “DICE” can answer this one ….. if “Mainframe Skills” and languages (such as COBOL and RPG) are starting to become in demand, then why are such items currently “NOT” listed as an option while looking for a job??? For example, “C” and “C++” are options that a person can have included in the “skills set” while looking for a job on “DICE”. Is perhaps the reason why we don’t have “Mainframe Skills”, “COBOL”, and “RPG” as options that we can check, to help in our job search, is because these jobs DON’T exist, or if they really do exist, why won’t “DICE” include such box options to check for a job search??? Just wondering the real truth!!!!!

  31. BY Danny Moreno says:

    I am Cobol expert, it is difficult I go back to program Cobol not even if they pay $150 per hour and permament position. Now I am LAMP developer and I am good, Cobol is and will be very good for business transactions.

  32. BY Sonya Fox says:

    Maybe there is a looming shortfall of skilled COBOL (and by association mainframe) resources, but until forced to acknowledge this by something like the Y2K issue then I don’t see this becoming a major issue. So many systems are now functioning on autopilot with no one left in the company who can troubleshoot, but as the system is stable it continues to run. Companies will only feel the pinch when they encounter an issue. As for accusing foreigners of stealing jobs, I find this to by cyclical. I’ve seen companies outsource systems, only to bring them inhouse again after having spent much money on the process and realizing it is not in their best interest to have done so (either they don’t receive the quality they require or they realize that having a system built to a deadline and budget has resulted in something that was slapped together and not scalable). I am currently unemployed, with nearly 25 years of industry experience in both mainframe and client server technologies. to see the positions on offer in the US has been laughable, and somewhat insulting. It is definitely the fault of HR getting involved in hiring for positions they have no knowledge of. To be honest, I would probably fail an online COBOL tech quiz, I don’t know what the first line of a COBOL program is, I don’t even remember the last time I had to type that line of code, and I don’t memorize return codes, that is what google is for. Luckily though I am young enough, at 45, that I should see the tide turn before I retire, and I promise to have the last laugh for all the mainframe resource who retired before they got the chance.

  33. BY Sonya Fox says:

    I saw this job listing not long after reading this article. Now this is what I like to see, and I wish more places could see the value in the mainframe skillet and advertise like this.
    http://www.seek.com.au/Job/wanted-old-school-information-technology-professionals/in/melbourne-melbourne/23047285

  34. BY Douglas Stephens says:

    I have been looking for mainframe applications job opportunities in Toronto, Canada for a while. And it is becoming quite bothersome!! I have an extremely strong background in mainframe development: over 20+ years in Australia, Canada, and India. I am currently studying towards my PMP certification.

    Does anyone know of any opportunities? My email address is Doug_Stephens@live.ca

  35. BY wsfaso says:

    Ha! I left COBOL design a long time ago…with the old main frame and terminal. I used to design pop up windows in COBOL that was a bit of fun. Then came C, C++, C#/VB.NET all paying much better than any COBOL installation. But I must say, the methodology I received in learning IBM Assembly and then COBOL has been training that carries through the ages. I am always quite bemused by the changes in terminology and methodology that all come back to the same basic fundamental structure. Today the fame is found in AGILE development, back when it was better known as an On Demand Management Style, only we were able to meet deadlines then….Seems the new generation does not quite get the term deadline. :P COBOL stays in my heart…kinda like the APPLE II and TurboC, the Beagle Brothers….what a time it was…

  36. BY john says:

    So where’s the shortage?

  37. BY john says:

    Searched Dice nationwide: 600 COBOL, 18,600 Java. Sowhere’s the shortage

  38. BY PrakashR says:

    This post gives positive energy but where the requirement?? you may know that COBOL programmers/Mainframe guys are paid very bad compare to latest emerging technologies though lot of business requires mainframe skills.

  39. Pingback: Sécurité des Mainframes, mythe ou réalité ? | Weblog Lexsi

  40. BY David says:

    My last “Cobol” contract ended June 2011 and I have not been able to find any thing else in 3 years – I have had some nibbles, however, it is a case of what have you done lately – well nothing..if I could only find some company willing to let me show them what I can do……..

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