Revolutionizing COBOL

In a recent interview, Amanda Hendley spoke with Scot Nielsen, Director of Product Management at OpenText, discussing talent and training in the mainframe industry and unveiling the inspiration behind their innovative “Learn COBOL in One Day” course.

A central motivation for developing the course was to bridge the longstanding skills gap in organizations reliant on COBOL. With over 800 billion lines of COBOL code actively in use, this programming language remains a critical foundation for legacy systems in key sectors like banking, finance, and government. The retirement of seasoned developers coupled with a dwindling influx of new talent learning COBOL has spotlighted this skills shortage, posing significant challenges for organizations dependent on COBOL systems for maintenance, updates, and modernization.

For many, the prospect of mastering an additional programming language, especially one [inaccurately] perceived as outdated, might seem formidable or futile. Herein lies the unique appeal of this course. “We’re trying to reduce the barriers for entry and make it a very accessible course,” Scot Nielsen explained. “The ‘Learn it in a day’ concept is catchy and motivates people to enroll. We’ve simplified access to tools, eliminating licensing hurdles, and making course registration straightforward.”

The course is designed to acquaint developers with the essentials of COBOL in just two hours. A comprehensive day’s study equips them with the skills to edit, compile, and debug COBOL applications. This structure is conducive for both seasoned industry professionals and newcomers, providing a smooth on-ramp to COBOL programming.

Since its launch, hundreds of developers have completed the course, designed to educate a new wave of talent to support contemporary COBOL applications. The course encompasses video-based on-demand educational materials combined with hands-on practical exercises using the latest development tool sets, and culminates in a digital certification. By getting developers trained on COBOL in just a day, organizations running applications on the mainframe can quickly and easily secure the skills needed to deliver their future digital transformation strategy. Overall, the course will also play an important role in helping to improve recruitment of high-demand skilled COBOL developers.

The course targets a diverse audience – from university students in computer science to seasoned developers in other languages like .NET and Java. Nielsen stressed the importance of this course for students, offering them a certification that broadens their industry perspective. For professionals considering a career shift or those wanting to expand their skills, the course serves as an ideal introduction to COBOL.

Behind the scenes, the genesis of the course lies in its unique creation process. An engineer, freshly graduated and new to COBOL, was instrumental in developing the bulk of the course material. This substantial investment underscores OpenText’s strong belief in COBOL’s enduring relevance.

By making COBOL more accessible and challenging existing perceptions, OpenText are not only addressing the immediate skills gap but also paving the way for the next generation of mainframe professionals. This initiative represents a significant step in ensuring that COBOL, a cornerstone of the IT industry, continues to evolve and integrate with the modern technological landscape.

This comprehensive course, complete with digital certification will teach developers to master this legendary programming language in a mere day. Embark on your COBOL journey – access the free course and learn COBOL in just one day.

Amanda Hendley is the Managing Editor of Planet Mainframe and  Co-host of the iTech-Ed Mainframe User Groups.  She has always been a part of the technology community having spent eleven years at Technology Association of Georgia and six years at Computer Measurement Group. Amanda is a Georgia Tech graduate and enjoys spending her free time renovating homes and volunteering with  in Atlanta, Georgia.

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