Is there a skills gap for training developers today?

Latest research from Micro Focus has revealed that nearly three quarters of academic institutions don’t support COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) in its courses.

Given that Micro Focus is a company which specialises in COBOL, a conclusion can be drawn to suggest that they would advocate more COBOL usage – and you’d be right – but the statistics and debate are very interesting.

COBOL isn’t the most fashionable programming language, of course, but it’s certainly one of the oldest, with widespread use continuing in enterprise, government and military arenas.

Surveying academic leaders from 119 universities globally, 58% said that COBOL programming should factor in the developer’s curriculum.

Yet of the institutions who currently teach COBOL, just over half have it as a core component of the course.

This fact is borne out in the languages developers graduate in. According to the Micro Focus research, there are more Java developers than any other introduced to the job market, followed by C# and C++.

32% of those surveyed had brought more than 30 Java programmers to the job market, whilst half that number had introduced 30 or more C++ and C# devs. By comparison, only one in 20 had introduced 30 plus COBOL developers.

In terms of education, there was a mixed response from the academics:

  • Three in five agreed that a developer should learn as many languages as possible
  • Just over one in five (21%) said that learning COBOL was a good “future proofed” idea as there aren’t as many skilled COBOL developers out there
  • Yet 14% said COBOL was “uncool”, 5% said it was “dead” and 3% had never heard of it before

The idea of skills gap and job difficulties has long been mooted in the industry. A report from Antenna Software back in October revealed how there has been a spike in mobile specific roles in both the UK and US but without the staff to fill them.

Last year tech employers mused that Java, mobile and .NET developers were in short supply, primarily as a result of employers all chasing similar candidates, going for “journeymen not apprentices”.

Results from PYPL (the PopularitY of Programming Language index) at the start of the year showed that whilst Java was the most popular language by a distance, C# was the most upcoming, being voted PYPL’s language of the year as a result.

Which languages do you cover, and which ones do you want – or feel you need – to learn?

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5 Apr 2013, 9:24 a.m.

Universities always seem to be waaay behind the trends.
Perhaps it's because those who can - do, while those who can't - teach?

I work for an IT jobs board and the number of COBOL jobs pales in comparison to the demand for Java, C# and C++.

So we have to ask what good higher education is, if what they're teaching is years out of date and not in demand.

I suppose it's no wonder then why graduates have such a tough time getting into the IT jobs market.