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Survey: Good News for COBOL Programmers

Yes, COBOL. Believe it or not, in higher education, COBOL--one of the oldest programming languages and second only to FORTRAN in comedic value--still has a future. According to a survey of CIOs by technology provider Micro Focus, more than 75 percent said they intend to recruit COBOL programmers over the next five years, but 73 percent said they're having a hard time finding such programmers. COBOL was invented in 1959 as an alternative to the most popular programming language of the day, Cuneiform.

Still, the need for talent to work with legacy systems is apparently a compelling one in higher education. Micro Focus, which specializes in enterprise application management and modernization solutions, said that 22 colleges and universities have signed on for its ACTION initiative, which, among other things, promotes the teaching of COBOL in an effort to provide support for the skills needed to maintain legacy systems.

The colleges and universities that have signed up with ACTION include, among others, New York City College of Technology, Kansas State University, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Central Carolina Technical College, and Colorado Tech University, according to a release issued by Micro Focus.

"As educators we must not only expose our students to the theoretical and 'hot' programming languages, but we must also provide the knowledge of systems and languages that are more prevalent in the work environment," said Harrison Simmons, a computer science lecturer at New York City College of Technology, in the same release. "By incorporating joint initiatives, such as ACTION into the curriculum, we provide our students better ways to equip themselves for today's large-system, enterprise computing jobs."

The ACTION program launched in May and has been adopted in the United States and in some parts of Europe and Asia.

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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