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Disparity between education and IT skills required by business

Anuradha Shukla | March 8, 2013
Global research indicates academic institutions should generate student demand for COBOL programming skills to meet business demand.

A new global research by Micro Focus has identified a gap between the university courses being offered and the IT skills required by businesses.

Many organisations require professionals skilled in programming languages like COBOL, CICS and JCL so that they can provide required support to business-critical IT systems.

However, the majority (73 percent) of worldwide academics running IT courses at universities do not have COBOL programming as part of their curriculum.

Seventy-one percent of the respondents said business organisations will continue depending on applications built using the COBOL language for the next 10+ years.

Fifty-eight percent of academic leaders from 119 universities across the world believe COBOL programming should be on their curriculum and 54 percent agree the demand for COBOL programming skills would either increase or stay the same over the next decade.

"The answer to the growing skills gap starts with education," said Kevin Brearley, senior director of Product Management at Micro Focus. "Business organisations and academic institutions need to work together to showcase COBOL as a relevant, in-demand business skill with a promising future."

Very few COBOL graduates

The largest volume of skilled developers introduced to the job market by academic institutions last year was Java programmers, followed by C# and C++ programmers.

There were significantly fewer COBOL graduates than the rest and only five percent introduced more than 30 COBOL developers to the market in 2012.

Sixty percent of academic leaders said the more language skills a developer learns, the better and 21 percent said they felt learning COBOL skills was a future-proofed career option.

Fourteen percent said COBOL was un-cool, five percent said COBOL was dead and three percent claimed no prior knowledge of COBOL at all.

"Young developers need to be encouraged and more industry relevant IT qualifications and further educational courses need to be introduced. After all, out of a total of 310 billion lines of code, 240 billion lines are COBOL," added Brearley. "It's the language behind 65 percent of all active code and 85 percent of all daily business transactions. Business requires these skills to support existing applications, but also to shape and develop the applications of tomorrow."


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