Computerworld recently wrote a story on the “9 hottest skills for ’09.” Included among them are help desk support, networking and business intelligence. Topping the list, however, is programming and application development. That is a broad category, but the author narrows it down pretty quickly:
Ask any recruiter what the single most sought-after IT skill is at the moment, and the universal response is a three-letter word: SAP.
“The little joke in our industry right now is that if you have ‘SAP’ on your résumé right now, you have zero unemployment,” says Bruce Culbert, CEO of iSymmetry Inc., an IT consulting and recruitment firm with offices in Washington and Alpharetta, Ga.
That in itself is interesting and would probably make a good story over at SearchSAP. The author also mentions the strong need for .Net programmers as well. But what caught my eye was the end of the section, when the author describes one particular user’s situation. A senior IT director named Rich Schappert at Casey’s General Stores Inc., based in Ankeny, Iowa, said he’s been working the past five years to fill the company’s need for .Net and SQL Server programmers, and has found them in the local colleges’ student body.
The company, which operates 1,500-plus stores across the Midwest, has been moving its Cobol-based financial applications into the .Net environment to reduce its mainframe costs. “[It's also] getting tougher to find people who know Cobol,” notes Schappert.
Hmm. So it seems to me that maybe knowing mainframe Cobol might trump all of those other skills, or at least be on par. The reason many of these companies are moving off the mainframe is because there aren’t enough people out there who know how to program on them. Or, at least, that’s the perception.