COBOL Education Vital, But Sorely Lacking

Our friends at Micro Focus shared the results of their latest mainframe skills survey with us, which shows a disconnect between business requirements and educational training. According to the poll of academic leaders from 119 universities across the world, more than half (58%) believe COBOL programming should be on their curriculum, with 54% estimating the demand for COBOL programming skills would increase or stay the same over the next 10 years. That's a far cry from today's reality. Of the 27% confirming COBOL programming was part of their curriculum, only 18% had it as a core part of the course, while the remaining 9% made it an elective component. 

These findings add to the results from another IT training and education study titled, “Closing the IT Skills Gap: 2011 SHARE Survey for Guiding University and College Agendas.” That study was produced by Unisphere Research in conjunction with SHARE, and sponsored by IBM. In the survey of 376 employers, a majority of respondents reported that they depend on the educational sector—universities and colleges—to provide graduates with specific IT skills in enterprise programming languages and mainframe administration skills, as well as business skills such as problem-solving and communications abilities. However, few companies are entirely satisfied with the readiness of graduates coming out of campuses.

About half of the companies in the SHARE/IBM said they hire new IT employees straight out of school, with relatively little actual working experience. Ideally, most would like to see at least a year of on-the-job experience—especially among smaller companies. The survey also found that COBOL is still sought as a skill by almost four out of 10 companies. More information on the SHARE/IBM survey is available here.  

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