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COBOL programmer salaries up by 43% in 1 year

What does this mean for legacy systems?

See IT Job Watch site.  The site also reports a 10% decrease in Java rates ... but lets look at COBOL for now.

We know that there has been no new green-field development in COBOL for ages ... new "enterprise" developments are in Java or C# ... not in COBOL. So the number of COBOL jobs have been decreasing over the years (the ITJobWatch site confirms this).

We also know that the COBOL developers are getting on a bit, and gradually more and more are retiring. COBOL programmer rates should have remained roughly the same if the number of “COBOL maintenance jobs” were decreasing at same rate of COBOL programmers retiring.

So what is causing this sudden 43% jump? I think there would be a number of reasons behind this. The obvious one is more people are retiring than jobs are getting lost. But here is another more-interesting, more conspiracy theory type reason: Lets say last year there was 200 jobs and 200 developers. Lets say this year there are 100 jobs and 100 developers. If I was the IT director of a big bank with lots of COBOL systems, and our modernization project was not imminent, then I would start hoarding COBOL resources. I would hire 2 developers for every available COBOL development position in my organization. We would make sure that all of them would know our legacy system’s well, and pay them above their normal rates. This would make sure that there would be someone there to after look our systems for a while.

So, the other organizations will suddenly find themselves short of COBOL staff, and they have to put up rates also. (Well, according to the latest news – the California Gov have a different option –lay-offs).

Maybe this is not the real reason for rate increases, but you must admit - it will be happening soon.

Re: COBOL programmer salaries up by 43% in 1 year

Up by 43%! Well that would get a contractor to maybe $50 an hour if he were lucky , in the US from what I have seen. I also understand there are lots of back office swetshops in India where they are training people in Cobol, VMS and other legacy stuff.

Re: COBOL programmer salaries up by 43% in 1 year

I think the figures on the website refers to permanent jobs - not contracting positions. Also, I would have thought the COBOL "permenant" job market would be bigger than the "contract" one ... because companies are not looking at big new developments in COBOL (suited to contractors), but are looking at long term maintenance of them.

On topic of "sweatshops" - If you were a manager for BIG company, would you outsource your business-critical application to a sweatshop ?

Re: COBOL programmer salaries up by 43% in 1 year

Last year I was talking to a System Integrator with large offices in India. He was telling me fresh Indian university graduates typically jump at the opportunity to work with this BIIG compoany. But then when they start to work, and get assigned to a COBOL project - they are disappointed. Anyway it takes them at least half a year to get to know the mainframe, COBOL and the system they are suppose to be maintaining. When a change request comes in from the outsourcing-client, it takes them a really long time to implement the change and test it (they lack confidence). After year and a bit, the graduates feel if they stay, they'll never get another job with more exciting technologies - the kind of stuff they went to uni to study.

And the System-Integrator has a large turnover of staff - and a continuous re-hiring, re-training cycle.

Grass isn't always greener on the other side !!

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