IT Talent: The COBOL Skills Gap — Challenges and Solutions

IT Talent: The COBOL Skills Gap — Challenges and Solutions

This IDC study, designed for leaders of IT organizations currently supporting COBOL-based systems, offers a historical view of COBOL and how it has achieved over 60 years as a production-level technology. From a talent management perspective, this study describes various ways IT organizations are supporting their production COBOL environments. It discusses major challenges related to finding future United States–based programmers to replace important legacy technology as large numbers of older COBOL technologists are retiring over the next few years and describes activities currently being performed by leading IT organizations to combat this potentially disastrous future skill set shortage. With this historical and current backdrop in place, this study concludes by laying out future-facing COBOL outlook and talent management-related recommendations and ways IT shops can be sure they have the skills and human resources needed to properly support their key COBOL-based software applications.

"COBOL's most significant challenges as a viable future production technology are not technical," says Eric Bloom, adjunct analyst with IDC's Research Network. "With a 60-year history of production usage, this technology has matured into a very stable, very dependable, transaction processing juggernaut. As a result, COBOL's Achilles heel isn't the technology itself — it's a combination of talent shortages, expensive production environments, technical biases against legacy technologies, and a slowly shrinking user base."

Please Note: Extended description available upon request.

IDC Opinion
In This Study
IT Executive Program Research Agenda
Situation Overview
COBOL Talent Management Approaches
COBOL Skills Replacement — Ongoing Challenges
Future Outlook
Porting to Linux — A Lifeline
The Tipping Point
Essential Guidance
In the Next 12 Months (or Sooner If Your Talent Management Plan Is Completed)
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Related Research
Table: IT Executive Program Research Agenda Themes

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