Cobol brain drain: Survey results

Organizations are trying to move off Cobol, but still like it for lots of reasons.

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Compared to more modern programming languages such as Visual Basic, C#, C++ and Java, how does Cobol rate for these characteristics:

Function

Much better/

Somewhat better 
About the same 

Worse/

Much worse 
Batch processing82% 12% 4%
Transaction processing 65%24%9%
Handling business-oriented features55%21% 19%
Run-time efficiency54% 33% 8%
Security39% 38% 15%
Reporting45% 37% 17%
Development cost39% 32% 17%
Maintenance cost43% 29% 18%
Ability to hire programmers13% 25% 55%
Agility 15% 33% 45%
                                                                
Base: 131 IT professionals
What is your organization's level of interest in outsourcing Cobol development, either onshore or offshore?

Not interested: 81%

Currently outsourcing: 12%

Interested: 7%

Base: 131 IT professionals

What is your organization's level of interest in outsourcing Cobol maintenance, either onshore or offshore?

Not interested: 73%

Currently outsourcing: 18%

Interested: 9%

Base: 131 IT professionals

Are you noticing a shortage of Cobol skills in the labor market?

Yes: 46%

No: 23%

Not yet, but expect to see it within five years: 22%

Don't know: 9%

Base: 99 IT professionals

Is it difficult to motivate your staff to use Cobol?

Yes: 28%

No: 59%

Don't know: 5%

We don't ask them to use Cobol: 8%

Base: 131 IT professionals

What's the average age of your current, in-house Cobol programmers?

25-35 years old: 2%

35-45: 21%

45-55: 50%

55+: 22%

We don't have any Cobol programmers: 1%

Don't know: 4%

Base: 131 IT professionals

What's the average age of Cobol programmers hired by your company in the past 12 months?

25-35 years old: 8%

35-45: 11%

45-55: 15%

55+: 5%

We haven't hired a Cobol programmer recently: 55%

Don't know: 6%

Base: 131 IT professionals

Which of the following best describes your organization's primary business or industry?

Computer services: 12%

State/local government: 11%

Finance: 9%

Insurance: 8%

Manufacturing (noncomputer): 8%

Wholesale/retail trade: 7%

Education: 5%

Health/medical services: 5%

Base: 212 IT professionals; not all responses reflected

Next: Brain Drain: Where Cobol Systems Go From Here

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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