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Cobol is here to stay in Australia despite looming skill shortages, Micro Focus survey reveals

Announcement posted by Micro Focus 28 Apr 2011

Close to a quarter of organisations cross-skill .net or Java developers to Cobol
Sydney, April 28, 2011 — Micro Focus (LSE.MCRO.L), the leading provider of enterprise application modernisation, testing and management solutions, today released the results of its Australian Cobol survey, which revealed one third of organisations view skill shortages as the biggest challenges in Cobol environments. At the same time, almost two thirds of businesses do not foresee any reduction in their Cobol workforce requirements in the next two years.

As more Cobol programmers are retiring, organisations face the challenge of how to keep staff numbers at a steady level. Cross-skilling .net or Java developers to Cobol was cited by 24% of respondents as preferred means of addressing the looming skill shortage, 9% recruit Cobol programmers from universities and 6% hire contractors or skilled migrants on 457 visas respectively.

Bruce Craig, country general manager, Micro Focus Australia and New Zealand says: “The competition for the shrinking pool of Cobol programmers is fierce. Increasingly we see organisations with Cobol mainframes and applications offer inhouse Cobol training courses to protect their business assets. Micro Focus’ developer tools eliminate the green screen and make it easier for new generation of developers to work with Cobol through a modern user interface similar to .net or Java.”

He adds: “As supply from universities and overseas is limited, we also heard of incidents where Cobol programmers were brought back from retirement as highly paid contractors.”

While skill shortages are the top concern, limitations of mainframe processing capacity (18%) and responding quickly to business needs (9%) are also seen as major challenges in Cobol environments.

“The workload on Cobol mainframes is steadily increasing, as organisations need to be more agile and respond quickly to business needs. The deployment of core applications in cloud environments or mobile devices puts greater demands on mainframe processing capacity, delaying development cycles and further increasing an unnecessary cost burden” says Craig.

Micro Focus allows organisations to alleviate capacity pressures on their mainframe by developing and testing applications in an offhost environment across distributed platforms, thus resulting in significant cost savings.

Micro Focus queried more than 30 large organisations using Cobol in Australia in March 2011, including organisations from the Financial Services Industry, Government, Utilities and Retail.

About Micro Focus

Micro Focus, a member of the FTSE 250, provides innovative software that allows companies to dramatically improve the business value of their enterprise applications. Micro Focus Enterprise Application Modernisation, Testing and Management software enables customers’ business applications to respond rapidly to market changes and embrace modern architectures with reduced cost and risk. For additional information please visit www.microfocus.com