I clipped this from ACM Technews, an email service of the ACM:
Looking for Job Security? Try Cobol
IDG News Service (10/23/08) Sullivan, Tom
A Cobol programmer may be one of the most secure and steady jobs in IT. Analysts report that Cobol salaries are rising due to a healthy demand for Cobol skills, and there are few offshore Cobol programmers. The troubled economy also bodes well for Cobol programmers, says Interop Systems director of research Jeff Gould, as long as they are working for an organization that intends to keep its legacy Cobol applications. "Many mainframe customers with large mission-critical Cobol apps are locked into the mainframe platform," Gould says. "Often there is no equivalent packaged app, and it proves to be just too expensive to port the legacy Cobol to newer platforms like Intel or AMD servers." Deloitte’s William Conner says salaries for Cobol programmers are rising because many Cobol programmers are reaching retirement age and colleges are focusing on Java, XML, and other modern languages instead of Cobol. Dextrys CEO Brain Keane says Cobol programmers are less likely to have their jobs outsourced because the Chinese do not have mainframe experience and recent Chinese computer science graduates have focused on the latest architectures and systems and do not have experience with legacy languages and systems. Meanwhile, warnings that mainframes would disappear have proven to be untrue, particularly because mainframes are very reliable at handling high-volume transaction processing, and companies are increasingly benefiting from integrating legacy mainframe Cobol applications with the rest of their enterprise.
(Full article here.) With the exception of the part about offshoring, this article could have been written 10 years ago, and be just as true then. There are, of course, a number of programmers in India that know COBOL – converting legacy apps for the year 2000 was one of the jobs that got the Indian IT service industry started.
Come to think of it, I never really learned COBOL, myself. But I was a decent REXX programmer….