- The volume of searches for COBOL programmer roles on Indeed.com rose 707% between March 1 and April 13, according to a review of fast-rising search terms from the hiring portal. The programming language placed fourth among the top-10 search terms.
- As of April 10, demand for software development jobs, as measured by job posts, is down 25.9% year-over-year, Nick Bunker, economic research director, North America, for Indeed, told CIO Dive. The decrease is part of a broader drop in overall job posts in the U.S. on Indeed, down 30.8% year-over-year.
- As the much of the country remains under lockdown, the rest of the list of key search terms includes words associated with remote work. The search for "WFH" spiked 599%, while job seekers looking for "online" roles increased 818%.
In the past four weeks, 22 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance. The unprecedented volume of claims put pressure on state online unemployment claim platforms, many of which run COBOL-based applications.
In response to the increase in demand, IBM launched a set of programs to train and develop COBOL talent through online resources. The trio of platforms, developed alongside the Linux Foundation's Open Mainframe Project, include a talent platform, a technical advice forum and an open source training course focused on expanding access to COBOL skills.
There's a perception that today's problem can be solved by developing and quickly onboarding COBOL programmers to help with older systems under pressure, said Stephen Hassett, president of Atlanta-based GT Software, in an interview with CIO Dive.
New Jersey put out a call for volunteers with COBOL skills to come to the aid of its unemployment insurance system, which buckled under the pressure of a 1,600% uptick in claims.
"The reality is it takes some amount of time to get them proficient in COBOL and the underlying systems," said Hassett. "But it takes them a lot longer to understand the entire architecture, the legacy environment. The idea that you can bring in volunteers or get people on board in a week is, I think, misguided."
Though COBOL talent is scarce, applications based on the language continue to power key architecture across several industry sectors, particularly those that handle large volumes of transactions such as banking and financial services.