College-level Cobol classes are scarce

At universities today, Cobol is often taught as an elective, if it's taught at all -- and that could create staffing problems for large enterprises.

Billions of lines of Cobol code are still in use at large businesses and in government agencies.

"I professionally think that Cobol is alive and well," said David Dischiave, an associate professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies.

A survey of 119 universities by Micro Focus, a maker of software for developing and modernizing enterprise systems, makes clear that organizations that need Cobol expertise may face staffing problems.

Micro Focus said that 73% of the universities polled don't offer Cobol programming classes. Of the rest, 18% have Cobol as part of their core curriculum and 9% offer Cobol courses as electives.

Meanwhile, 71% of the respondents said that they believe businesses will continue to rely on Cobol-based applications for at least the next 10 years.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham doesn't teach Cobol. "The demand just wouldn't justify us even offering a class," said Paul Crigler, a computer instructor at the UAB School of Business.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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