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Battle of the Ages; Stereotypes Collide 319

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the old-vs-young dept.
JCOTTON writes "A CIO.com article By Phil Murphy explains that "The hype around the shortage of qualified legacy technologists grows each day. Pundits would have us believe that 1.5 million COBOL programmers will suddenly disappear one day, leaving any company with legacy technology in dire straits. The truth is that there are far more programmers with legacy skills looking for work than there are jobs for them, as evidenced by organizations like Legacy Reserves, which functions as a training and job matching service for unemployed or underemployed programmers wishing to modernize their skills." This article explains many of the issues facing "the upper half" of Information Technology workers."
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Battle of the Ages; Stereotypes Collide

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  • by parvenu74 (310712) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:23AM (#11081480)
    And here I thought there was going to be a great need for VB6 and that I would be viable for the next 20 years on that alone... Time to learn the new language of the month, I suppose.
  • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:24AM (#11081485) Homepage Journal
    I just searched Google for Learn Cobol [google.ca] and only got 417k results. Not that popular a subject anymore I suppose.
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by which way is up (835908) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:28AM (#11081521)
    They have been predicting the demise of programmers since the invention of COBOL in the 60s. It was supposed to turn ordinary business users into programmers thanks to its easy, English-like syntax. We're still waiting. Now this writer is talking about running out of programmers capable of maintaining code that was presumably easy to write and maintain?
    • They have been predicting the demise of programmers since the invention of COBOL in the 60s. It was supposed to turn ordinary business users into programmers thanks to its easy, English-like syntax. We're still waiting. Now this writer is talking about running out of programmers capable of maintaining code that was presumably easy to write and maintain?

      I think you mistake COBOL [infogoal.com] for ALGOL [umich.edu]. The latter was indeed advertised for it's "ease of use" and it started a long line of (supposedly) user friendly lang
    • by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:13PM (#11081912) Homepage Journal
      ...but rather the database and transaction (or batch) environment that the COBOL itself runs in.

      An IBM CICS programmer familiar with DB2 would have a tough time coming into a Unisys A-series shop that uses COMS and DMSII, not to mention the culture shock when his JCL-conditioned mind runs into a job control language like WFL. :-) Although he might survive the shock if he's been exposed to REXX...

    • [COBOL] was supposed to turn ordinary business users into programmers thanks to its easy, English-like syntax. We're still waiting.

      Yes, we're still waiting for the first ordinary business user who can understand easy, English-like syntax to come along.
  • Hmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    People still using COBOL can migrate to COBOL.net. Fujitsu implemented a this abmonination. [c-sharpcorner.com]
    • And, for those who want something more cross-platform and established: COBOL on the JVM:

      http://www.legacyj.com/lgcyj_perc1.html

  • by Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:31AM (#11081554)
    Of course it's a complete coincidence that when the story mentions COBOL, the /. fortune cookie I get says "VMS must die.".
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:31AM (#11081556) Journal
    Thus sayeth IT technical college.
  • by acvh (120205) <geek AT mscigars DOT com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:33AM (#11081568) Homepage
    it's a fscking advertisement.

    Not that there aren't a few good soundbites in it, but come on, a consultant defending consultants isn't news.

  • by Brian Stretch (5304) * on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:33AM (#11081573)
    now that the geniuses with their MBAs have figured out that overseas outsourcing is an even bigger disaster than domestic outsourcing was. ("But how can that be! It's CHEAPER!") I'm hearing from recruiters again. IT is such a huge force multiplier that it's stupid to do anything that will jeopardize its effectiveness. Labor cost is only one variable in the multivariable problem, kids.

    Sure, the PHBs will whine about the need for cheap H1-Bs that they can abuse, but I don't see Congress being all that sympathetic at the moment, or at the very least they're too fragmented on the issue of immigration in general to get anything done.

    Boom times are here again! Well, no, but at this point somewhat better than average middle class employment will do.
    • ut I don't see Congress being all that sympathetic at the moment

      I don't have a link offhand, but I remember hearing on the radio the other day that Congress just increased the number of H-1B visas to be awarded in the current fiscal year from 65,000 to 85,000.

      Congress is most definitely "sympathetic" to the whims of big business.

      • Quite so. This is the age of the MBA president after all. Add to that the fact that this MBA has never successfully run any company of signifcance and you've got an potentially explosive combination.
        • I was watching CNN a week ago or so, as they were showing part of one of his speaches. He made an interesting Freudian slip.

          "we are a large company..er country..." - George W Bush

          I thought it summed up his thoughts on things nicely - especially with the current "focus on the short term profits" approach of so many buisnesses.
        • This is the age of the MBA president after all. Add to that the fact that this MBA has never successfully run any company of signifcance and you've got an potentially explosive combination.

          How many successful politicians can you name who have also run successful companies? Very few, I bet. It takes a remarkably different temperament and management style, being a businessman versus being a politician. Ross Perot was successful in business but was a complete disaster in politics.

          Why do people assume that

  • by gateman9 (733995) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:34AM (#11081576) Homepage Journal
    I dunno, I never have liked to tie myself to one language or another. Maybe it's the CS major, but I find that all languages have things in common, and that I can quickly become proficient in each.

    Sure I have my favorite languages, but I treat each language I come across equally; hell, I tolerated and become proficient in Scheme of all things. This way, if the flavor of the day goes away, I can simply pick up a book on the new flavor, figure out how it does business, and get to work.

    Good principles and techniques transcend language boundaries.
    • Really, it's an argument not only for adaptability, but versatility as well.

      Not that dropping out of college hasn't been a good move for some people [microsoft.com], but there is something to be said for having a well-rounded education.
    • However, when one is looking for work, it seems that one is usually labelled as a "specialist" in whatever technical platform and language used in the last position.

      A person with both good knowledge of C and good knowledge of COBOL is usually seen as being a "COBOL programmer" if their last work experience was mainly writing COBOL code.

      It sounds silly, I know, but that's what I've seen (and what many others I know have also seen) in the current job market.
      • Business tends to feel more comfortable with hiring specialist for some reason. I think they take the adage "Jack of all trades and master of none a little" too literately. They are afraid when they see a resume with 20 different programming languages on it. They much rather find a person who has 5 years in VB.NET then 20 years in programming and only 6 month with VB.NET but they know 2 Dozen Computer languages. They figure if this guy with the 5 years in this language really knows it and can get the job
    • Actually my knowledge of scheme played a big part in getting my current job (writing C# & C++ and then integrating it with Lisp)
    • Numerical analysis knows no language bounds. Of course, this only helps if you are a mathematical physics coder.

      Algorithms know no language bounds. There, that works.
  • by Lucas Membrane (524640) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:34AM (#11081580)
    Sally Struthers is going to be on TV asking for money for aged COBOL weenies, and I learned PL1 when I heard that it was going to replace COBOL and Fortran. So, think of poor me -- almost forty years dealing with people who didn't know that COBOL was inferior, and all I've got to look forward to is 40 years having a hard time getting charity because I've got a disease that doesn't have a Sally Struthers, Mary Tyler Moore, or Jerry Lewis. I may have to start drinking and get depressed so that Jason Robards and Terry Bradshaw will be on my side.
  • by muntumbomoklik (806936) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:35AM (#11081584)
    I'm -still- trying to find a job with my Turtle Logo skills.....
  • Anyone need a 6502/6510 assembly language programmer? I'm a little rusty, but if I can just find my old book by Compute!'s Gazette, I'll be ready to go!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I learnt is in school years ago, in 1990, a simple program looks like this:

    IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.

    PROGRAM-ID. HELLO WORLD.
    AUTHOR. ANONYMOUS COWARD.
    DATA DIVISION.
    WORKING-STORAGE SECTION.
    77 DAUBE PIC X(11) VALUE "HELLO WORLD!"
    PROCEDURE DIVISION.
    DEBUT SECTION.

    1. PRINT DAUBE.

    2. STOP RUN

    Tabulations was hard in cobol...
    Also for old cobol program there was no COMPUTE statement, you had to do something like:
    ADD A TO B GIVING C.
    later it was
    COMPUTE C=A+B.
    easier :)

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:39AM (#11081627)
    > Pundits would have us believe that 1.5 million COBOL programmers will suddenly disappear one day, leaving any company with legacy technology in dire straits

    Sounds like the Rapture to me.

    For Root himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the BOFH, and the trump of Root: and those
    buried face-down, 9-edge first [houghi.org] shall rise: Then we which are fat-fingered from typing, and remain shall be caught up together with them in the job queue, to meet the Scheduler in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Scheduler, 8"
    - 1 COBOLonians 4:16-17

    I'm goin' to hell for that. But if you make me program in COBOL again, I'm taking you with me, rapture or not.

  • by B5_geek (638928) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:44AM (#11081658)
    I know I will get flamed by some out-of-work programmers out there,

    but...

    There are too many companies that refuse to move out of the computing Bronze-Age; bite the bullet and upgrade.

    The town that I work in (Blue-collar auto-industry) is filled with tool & die shops. Typical scenerio: The owner left the assembly line of Ford/GM/whatever 20 years ago and created his own company. He bought a DOS app to run his business on a 286-server/workstation, and he is surprised and insulted to find out that XP won't run on it.

    I have seen shops that Net revenue >$10 million/year, and they depend on a app written in BASIC!!!! as their life-blood.

    Holy shit people, it might be time to upgrade!

    There is a reason we don't (all) still use Horse & buggys. There is still a market for companies to make horse-shoes and buggy whips, (and I bet that company has a monopoly) but there are valid reasons to upgrade.

    There will always be a need for Legacy-based skills, but for the love of $deity don't hold onto old tech that you think "Well it used to be good enough!" .

    • There will always be a need for Legacy-based skills, but for the love of $deity don't hold onto old tech that you think "Well it used to be good enough!" .

      But if it is still good enough, why change? Rewriting large apps will introduce new bugs and problems. I work at a company that writes programs in COBOL. It might be nice to my resume to redo everything whatever the flavor of the month language is, but why? Our apps work great and our customers really like them.
    • by AltGrendel (175092)
      ...Don't Fix it.

      I've dealt with these guys. They are satisfied with what they're getting out of that type of system and will keep it till the power surge blows it away. Hell, I wouldn't be suprised if some of them checked Ebay [ebay.com] for replacement hardware. I'm sure they know were they put those 5.25 floppies.

    • by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:04PM (#11081817) Homepage Journal
      When I worked for a major airline, the flight planning system I supported and helped enhance was written in Fortran and running on a Unisys 2200 mainframe (which is an older architecture but also a fairly reliable and *modern* platform in terms of its actual hardware).

      Fortran was (and is) a perfect language for the type of problem being solved, since a lot of it actually does involve semi-complex calculations.

      The mainframe platform is also ideal, as the system is designed as a centralized software app running on a large-scale server and being used by folks all over the world on remote terminals (be they "green screens" or web clients).

      Sometimes the older languages and platforms in use really *are* a good fit. Or is it change for changes sake that you're asking for?
      • When I worked for a major airline, the flight planning system I supported and helped enhance was written in Fortran and running on a Unisys 2200 mainframe (which is an older architecture but also a fairly reliable and *modern* platform in terms of its actual hardware).

        But this isn't a mainframe, with its reliable architecture and a source of parts, it's a 286 running a basic app that no longer runs on new hardware - one power surge and they're screwed.

        • ... it's a 286 running a basic app that no longer runs on new hardware ...

          I'm confused about why a basic app (either something written in BASIC language or meaning 'essential - low level') won't run on new hardware.

          If the Windows PC is run with the 'cmd' program, it makes a DOS screen. Doing Alt-Enter makes the system look and feel like 286-era DOS, only running 30 times faster.
          There might be a problem with legacy ISA bus expansion cards. This bus is being abandoned on all 21st century motherb
          • I'm confused about why a basic app (either something written in BASIC language or meaning 'essential - low level') won't run on new hardware.

            Most likely, it won't run on WinXP.

            If the Windows PC is run with the 'cmd' program, it makes a DOS screen. Doing Alt-Enter makes the system look and feel like 286-era DOS, only running 30 times faster.

            Nope. It resembles DOS, but it's different. Eventually, stuff specific to DOS may be dropped. Anyway, it's nice to have some support for your accounting softwar

        • Besides, I've seen online stores selling *palettes* of 486-class boxes for almost nothing that would probably still run that older application, and one of those would give him spare hardware for the next several hundred years. :-)

          Sounds to me like he's got a sane idea.
    • by Tassach (137772) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:21PM (#11082005)
      There are too many companies that refuse to move out of the computing Bronze-Age; bite the bullet and upgrade.
      If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

      Seriously. A 30-year-old custom COBOL app has, in all probability, had all of it's bugs resolved 20 years ago. It works. Replacing a legacy system with a million lines of tested and proven code is going to be an expensive and dangerous proposition.

      I have seen shops that Net revenue >$10 million/year, and they depend on a app written in BASIC!!!! as their life-blood.
      If it works reliably and satisfies the business requirements, what does it matter what language it's written in? The answer is: it doesn't. If the bugs have been squashed and the requirements have not changed, there is NO reason whatsoever to monkey with a working, stable system. "BASIC is for n00bs; Python is l33t" is not an adequate justification to replace a proven system.

      There are plenty of applications that work perfectly with a curses-based interface runing on dumb green-screen terminals -- just because the technology used isn't "cool" does not mean that there's any benefit in replacing it with a GUI or web-based interface or whatever else is "cool" this year.

      Holy shit people, it might be time to upgrade!
      Holy shit people, it might be time to develop some professionalism. It's not about who has the coolest toys -- it's about satisfying the business requirements in the most cost-effective manner.
      for the love of $deity don't hold onto old tech that you think "Well it used to be good enough!"
      The question isn't "did it used to be good enough?", the questions are "is it currently good enough?" and "can we justify the expense and risk of re-implementing it?".
      • Those are good points: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But you also need to be prepared for it to break. If the PC he's using dies, will the app run on a new one? Does DOS boot on a new machine? I've never tried, but I'd guess not. Does the BASIC interpreter run on a new machine? Maybe yes, maybe no. For example, old Turbo Pascal apps fail on fast machines, because they do a timer calibration loop at the beginning, and it overflows. (There are known fixes, but if you're running on old hardware, ha
        • But you also need to be prepared for it to break
          Yes, having a disaster recovery plan is important. So is TESTING that plan to make sure it will work in a real disaster. If you haven't done a dry run, you really don't have a DR plan other than "panic".
          Does DOS boot on a new machine? I've never tried, but I'd guess not
          I've never found a PC which would not boot DOS.
    • I have seen shops that Net revenue >$10 million/year, and they depend on a app written in BASIC!!!! as their life-blood. [...] Holy shit people, it might be time to upgrade!

      Why? BASIC still runs on XP in a cmd window. But who even needs XP? Why run into device problems? Just run FreeDOS. You can't beat the price. That allows you to pickup 486s at some local shop for $30 to run the app, too.

      Furthermore, the physical process that the BASIC program controls, still runs and makes the company mo
    • I missed one major point when I submitted that reply.

      I was there because they were trying to make it do 'new' neato-wow things. The owner didn't understand why the 386 running DOS that was printing to a dot-matrix printer (untill it died, and the manufacturer was out of business) wanted to print to a networked office laser printer.

      I could get it to connect and print, but the fonts were all different. That wasn't good enough. So owner of the company wanted me to re-write all the PCL code so that it
    • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @01:56PM (#11082962) Homepage Journal
      I've run across quite a few of those mouldy old systems. A lot of the time, no one understands the business logic or process behind the application. Most of the people who actually use the software are not much better than trained monkeys -- they use cheat sheets to go from screen to screen in the program without really understanding why they're doing it that way. The people who did understand the business process were shit-canned as soon as the software was implemented (Or somewhat before it was done) and the original programmer left for greener fields or died of caffiene poisoning or something.

      To implement the software on modern gear would require a tremendous amount of time just sorting out what everone does and why. It's a much larger problem than just sitting down and hacking it out, even if you have the original source and want to blindly follow the last guy's design.

      And then sometimes they just can't match the performance of the old system. IBM's been trying to do away with their RETAIN system since I first started working for them back in the mid '90's. At the time they thought they'd go to a Lotus Notes app on their 486 servers. After all, the 486 was designed to give you the same performance on your desktop as a mainframe, right? Sure, for a single user! They never could figure out how to match RETAIN's performance. To this very day they're still maintaining it. I don't think anyone understands it anymore, really. It's millions of lines of mainframe assembler code from what I hear. It's like this ancient evil that lurks under the surface of the apparently peaceful company, just waiting to consume the souls of young programmers. With Tentacles.

  • at old technologies, not that the programmers "vanished".

    Apparently labor markets are among the least efficient: supply and demand seem wildly uncoordinated...its a market even more influenced by psychological factors than the stock market!

    I am NOT showing this article to my boss. I have a job turning old Ada programs into C++ and if I don't puke to death reading the code first, the difficulty that management percieves in finding less inexpensive college hires who know [or want to learn] this sudde
    • They equate "old technology" with someone shoving a stack of paper cards into a steam-powered box the size of a warehouse.

      They don't understand that some people were writing multi-activity programs (that's multi-threaded for you more modern weenies) before most of the folks who read /. were even born. :-)

      You don't tend to see issues like "buffer overruns" in most mainframe environments, and there's a reason for that: that type of thing was engineered out years ago. Decades ago.
  • When they say about shortage, don't get it wrong. Quite probably they are after the people willing to work for a daily bowl of ramen or similar (aka "replaceable slaves"). Why do you think you are always asked whether "could we do it in VB?".

    After all - you _are_ geek, you should enjoy cleaning dust out of office PCs! (Or coding VB which IMO is an equivalent).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:46AM (#11081678)
    "Straits", man. Not "straights".
  • by Spencerian (465343) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:54AM (#11081732) Homepage Journal
    I see, daily, an annoying point where IT users are OVER-trained in one technology set, which blinds them to more efficient and effective resolutions to company computer service and infrastructure.

    My business concentrates on Mac OS X systems used in a publishing environment. They work much like their Windows counterparts and could even be integrated with the larger domain for more efficiency. But when I speak of this to others they look at me with confusion and, maybe, heresy?

    These people act as if Macs are toys or inferior in some way. Of course, this is far from the case, but their training has changed how they see technology. This really isn't the old Mac/PC debate. (Apple lost the first war. But they still found an important place in today's computing world.)

    No computer technology is perfect, of course. But the mistaken ubiquity that IT is Microsoft and Microsoft is IT makes all other non-MS technicial initiatives and products harder to sell in concept or through a store.
    • Lemme guess: Are you an MBA by any chance? You lost me at the phrase "integrated with the larger domain for more efficiency". Geesh, if I wanted bulls*it, I'd RTFA...
    • Linux users don't like Macs either.

      The proprietary hardware, lack of open source software (even worse than on Windows), lawsuit-happy Apple, and dumbed down straight jacket like Mac OS operating system (before they used a BSD core) are reasons.

      How do you get a Windows user and a Linux user to stop fighting?

      Say you think Macs are better, then run like hell. :)
      • by Zugot (17501) *
        Yes we do. Gentoo on a 15" powerbook sounds pretty damn nice right now.
      • The proprietary hardware, lack of open source software (even worse than on Windows), lawsuit-happy Apple, and dumbed down straight jacket like Mac OS operating system (before they used a BSD core) are reasons.

        Way to ignore the last 3 years. OSX runs pretty much all the things that BSD does, and Photoshop too. I like linux because it works - I'm not going to demand that someone supply me with apps for free.

  • Java (Score:3, Funny)

    by cerberusss (660701) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:55AM (#11081737) Homepage Journal
    I guess I'll be talking to those guys at Legacy Reserves, because I heard that Java is the new COBOL...
  • by Original Buddha (673223) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:05PM (#11081820)
    http://www.bls.gov/search/ooh.asp?ct=OOH

    Pick just about any job and in the listing you'll find something like this:

    Employment of XXXXX is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations over the 2002-12 period. However, job opportunities are expected to be very good because a large number of XXXXX are expected to retire in the coming decade, creating many job openings.

    Does anyone truly believe this? No. The only group of people that typically exploit this figure is someone trying to sell you something.

  • leaving any company with legacy technology in dire straights

    Now, that would be a pain in the ass.

    Straits, dammit.

  • by natoochtoniket (763630) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:11PM (#11081894)
    I am frequently surprised that so many people consider themselves to be an X-Language programmer (for some particular X-Language). I think of myself as a computer scientist, or perhaps as a software engineer, but avoid labeling myself with any particular technology. After learning 40 or 50 languages and forgetting most of them, I have come to realize that I can learn a new language in a few days, and become comfortable with the library and environment in a few weeks.

    A carpenter is not a hammer-er, or a saw-er, or a drill-er. He is expected to be able to quickly learn and use any of those tools, as needed for the project. A new project can use a new tool (language, os, whatever) as needed for the application. When an old program needs maintenence, it may require some re-learning of the old tool, but that should not be difficult.

    I suspect the harder problem is preserving the old development systems and tools. If the compiler (or some other tool) hasn't been used in several years, there is a good chance that it won't work. Or, that we can't find it at all because it didn't get loaded onto the new host before the old host was scrapped. Or, that the old hard-copy manuals (how to use the tools) have rotted and/or been discarded in the trash.

    • Ah my friend you have truly stated the difference between Computer Scientists and those technical college graduates. Real Computer Scientists are a dying unwanted breed. Until businesses realize the fundamental differences between these two groups it will be a self perpetuating problem of their business not being able to adapt. Unfortunately businesses are too preoccupied by a meaningless certificate of certification than can do spirited and capable scientists. This is what tech colleges and night schoo
      • Unfortunately businesses are too preoccupied by a meaningless certificate of certification than can do spirited and capable scientists.

        Businesses looking to hire IT staff may be but if you go to a company that specializes in solving software problems you will be turned down just for having certificates on your resume.

        Just remember, there are jobs for IT specialists and jobs for Computer Scientists. They aren't the same thing. There are far more jobs in IT than there are in CS but there are still far to
    • It seems that job requirements tend to list experience with X-Language, which is whatever they are using big.

      Trying to explain to an HR person that you understand the theory behind programming and are a "Computer Scientist," have larned dozens of languages, and can learn any language they want to use now and in the future... it doesn't seem to work.

      They want you to have previous professional experience with X-Language or X-Buzzword nowadays. I'm not even sure why they require Computer Science degrees any
    • I am frequently surprised that so many people consider themselves to be an X-Language programmer (for some particular X-Language). I think of myself as a computer scientist

      I mostly agree with you with one caveat, I do think it's appropriate to label yourself as an X-Language programmer is you have extremely deep skills in a particular language. Skills that takes years and years to develop.

      Most computer scientists can solve just about any problem in a typical programming language (if given enough time to
  • Having been a consultant over the last 6 years, and an employee before that, I say that there are systematic problems in the corporations with their decision making, and mandates.

    When it is policy to mutilate a system, and cause it not to function properly, of course the IT staff aren't able to perform their function! Enter the consultants, who recommend the same things that employees complain about in daily life, and voila -- the consultants look like heroes.

    I've been on both sides, and it makes me want
  • We're already having problems finding decent applicants for our job posting [epublica.de] (*) who know enough Perl. Which is frightning, because we do pretty standard web application development stuff. Most of this kind of work is now done in PHP, but few people want to learn from there and get proficient in Perl.

    What a shame. Perl was my start into this business and it served me well. And that's just 9 years ago.

    Yes, we did post an English summary of the job on jobs.perl.org, but all of the applicants coming from ther
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:23PM (#11082027) Homepage Journal
    One must be cautious when they hear the word "labor shortage". Lobbying organizations such as ITAA [itaa.org] are paid millions of dollars from large tech companies to lobby congress and the papers about the doom and gloom of tech labor shortages. This is to justify more visa workers and offshoring. In other words, the "cheap labor lobby".

    I am not saying that this is necessarily what the article's author has heard, but it would not surprise me. Organizations like ITAA are shrewd and tenacious. They recently managed to influence many small-city newspapers to publish articles about the dangers of tech labor shortages by quoting companies who allegedly will go under unless they import Indians or move to India. Their leader, Harris Miller, lobbied for more agricultural migrants (fruit pickers) from Mexico in his previous job, according to some sources.

    The excuse is the same for tech as it was for agriculture: "Americans don't want fruit-picking jobs". At $3-per-hour, who would? They want to do to tech what they did for agriculture. Different career, same plan.

    They should be on the same "geek enemy list" as SCO.
  • The real truth, in case we are about to forget, is that it is very important to employers to whine as much as possible about programmer shortages. When the group of available programmers increases, they have greater choice and can offer lower wages.

    I don't believe in an upcoming shortage of legacy programmers, and if I did I would consider it a cause for celebration.

  • Anyone that takes 10 seconds to think about how IT journalism works can figure out the reason for "Expected Looming Skills Shortage Threatens $YOUR_HAPPINESS"

    As a journalist, you want to interview the CIO's - the decision makers - to find out what they're going to buy in the future, what their biggest concerns are, etc.

    You're less likely to interview the system administrators "on the ground" that really know what's going on.

    The CIO's see that their highly-skilled people are overworked. They have limited

  • This is bad news. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by museumpeace (735109) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:32PM (#11082128) Journal
    found at top of page linked from article:

    "Welcome to Legacy Reserves, the largest U.S. databank of Legacy Professionals over the age of 35"
    I think that is a new low in setting the threshold for being "over the hill". This means I was old 20 years ago...god, somebody see if I still have a pulse!
  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @12:36PM (#11082171) Homepage Journal
    Firms are populated by some of the dumbest blindest self serving retards on the planet. There is no shortage of labot. Let me repeat that - THERE IS NO shortage of labor.

    What there is a shortage of is 45 year olds with 20 years of experience in a 5 year old technology and willing to relocate halfway across the country for a 50% pay cut on a contract basis for six months.

    The COBOL jocks who are still around are not in it for altruistic purposes. They are in it to make a killing. Don't think so? Ok - more than half of the country's COBOL, etc. hands were fired in the mid 90's with 'consolidation' and 'modernization'. Then those same idiots who fired everyone freaked out when they simply couldn't answer their own auditors questions about Y2K.

    It was magic. All the middle aged guys who got fired coming back to work and literally pulling a rate number out of their ass. $100/hr sound ok to you? $125? Good cause that's what it's to cost you.

    Well here we are 4 years into a capital investment recession in IT and guess what? Those same old Mainframes are still around and COBOL and CICS and JCL are still running on them. Because that work NEVER got done ten years ago. It was too expensive and was crowded out by Y2K.

    So second generation executards call in the oldtimers again, this time to 'fix' the mainframe problem because the leases are coming due and the CFO is absofuckinglutely convinced that and ICC capital lease iis more expensive than junking everything and starting over.

    Hey I've heard this Opera before. It was called "Client Server Computer".

    But make no mistake about it my fellow greyheads. They have about as much respect for you and your skills as they have for the beaker that collects bull semen. What you have to do is rape them on the contract.

    And in 3 or 4 years and the progress is excruciatingly slow and they suddenly come back from Gartner executive retreats with the new found knowledge that mainframe is new paradigm they must strategize, optimize and leveragize they'll drop all the migration efforts and put their money back into mainframe system development.

    Trust me, IBM would not continue to invest all that money in MVS and z/OS Large Systems if they thought there was a limited future in it.

    Every couple of years there is the same old new revolution in commercial IT. It's part of the scenery like starving African children with automatic weapons. Sell them more weapons.
  • company with legacy technology in dire straights

    What, will all the company board members become homophobic, and sit around saying "this newfangled java is teh gay"?

    Or perhaps you meant straits, not straights.
  • The hype around the shortage of qualified legacy technologists grows each day. Pundits would have us believe that 1.5 million COBOL programmers will suddenly disappear one day, leaving any company with legacy technology in dire straights. The truth is that there are far more programmers with legacy skills looking for work than there are jobs for them

    Did you think outsourcing would stop with application programmers? There are lots of weasels making huge money selling the merits of outsourcing to decision

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