The coronavirus pandemic is pushing health care systems to their limits, but it’s also exposing the reliance of some states on very old technology. A side effect of that being COBOL programmers are now back in demand.
As CNN reports, computer systems in New Jersey, Kansas, and Connecticut are all experiencing a massive surge in demand, mainly through local residents attempting to file for unemployment. The problem is, these systems are 40-year-old mainframes and rely on COBOL to keep them running, which is a programming language that first appeared back in 1959.
COBOL is no longer a language the vast majority of new (or experienced) programmers choose to learn, but there are certainly still a lot of older coders around who used to work with it. That’s good news, as the call is out for them to get in touch and lend a hand during these testing times.
“Not only do we need healthcare workers but given the legacy systems, we should add a page [on www.covid19.nj.gov] for COBOL computer skills because that’s what we’re dealing with,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said last week. “Literally, we have systems that are 40 years-plus old, and there’ll be lots of postmortems. And one of them on our list will be how did we get here where we literally needed COBOL programmers?”
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly also admitted the state’s Department of Labor operates on a COBOL system. Connecticut seems to have it the worst. They are running a COBOL mainframe “and four other separate systems,” which aren’t planned to be replaced until 2021, meaning they are going to need people with COBOL experience for quite some time to come.
Even if you have no COBOL experience, now’s the perfect time to pick up a new skill, be that programming or otherwise. Check out these 11 free online courses to get you started, or take the time to learn COBOL online through Udemy.