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    IBM helps States link to COBOL skills during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic

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    IBM helps States link to COBOL skills during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic

    IBM helps States link to COBOL skills during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic

    IBM partners with the Open Mainframe Community to develop three projects to address urgent needs.

    Several states are handling a record number of unemployment rate in the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Some also require advanced programming skills to make improvements to COBOL, which is a language that is still active today. Changes are expected to fix new requirements in the qualifications for unemployment payments — in a relatively short timeline. IBM is working closely with these clients to discuss their needs and to identify answers to their problems.

    By Meredith Stowell, Vice President, IBM Z Ecosystem

    Our clients are facing extraordinary circumstances following the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the world's vital infrastructure, such as economy, hospitals, transportation, financial services, and other industries, relies on IBM – which is why we strive to be of value to our environment and to the structures that support it.

    In fact, we know that this is manifesting in handling a high amount of unemployment claims and facing some acute difficulties for some states. We've noticed consumers continue to adapt their processes to meet the rise in demand and IBM has been aggressively collaborating with clients to support those applications.

    There are also several states that require advanced technical expertise to make enhancements to COBOL – a language commonly known to have an estimated 220 billion lines of code that is actually being regularly used. These code updates are necessary in a very short period to take into account the current criteria for eligibility for unemployment benefit.

    We are working closely with these customers to meet their needs and to prepare and find solutions to the problems they encounter. IBM is so proud to have partnered with the Linux Foundation's Open Mainframe Project over the past 24 hours to create three new projects addressing the urgent and temporary need:

    1. Calling all COBOL Programmers Forum: A digital talent portal where companies can interact with COBOL programmers who are qualified who have expertise. This latest program offers an effective way on better align practitioners where needs emerge – with specialized talent that is ready for the job. This is available to those seeking employment, returning qualified soldiers, students who have successfully completed COBOL courses or volunteer practitioners.

    2. COBOL Technical Forum A new temporary tool, which is closely supervised by professional COBOL programmers, who offer free guidance and expertise during the crisis. This method would allow all levels of programmers to solve challenges, learn new strategies, and speed up required solutions as programmers change this vital code.

    3. Open Source COBOL Training A brand new Open Source course intended to teach COBOL to students and refresh the technical experience. IBM has partnered with customers and a higher education institution to create an in-depth COBOL computing course with VSCode that will be open to everyone in the public domain for free next week. This program will be turned into a self-service video course, with hands-on laboratories and demos available next month via Coursera and other learning channels. The course will be available for free on IBM's own online website.

    IBM has a long and proud history of investing in technologies for mainframes. As well as contributing to the Open Mainframe Project Development Forum and offering extended open-source training, IBM has engaged in a range of projects to meet our society's ongoing need for COBOL skills:

    IBM Z Academic Initiative Via the IBM Z Strategic Initiative program, IBM is successfully working with over 120 schools around the U.S. located near our customers to incorporate critical Business Computing content into their curriculums. Those courses also involve a COBOL presentation. More than 45 of those schools have unique COBOL programming classes, and more are added each year. In addition to having a lively, active mainframe student club, Bergen Community College in New Jersey, for example, provides mainframe content in their curriculum.

    Master the Mainframe: COBOL is also implemented by our Master the Mainframe programmers, which attracted 4,286 students from more than 600 schools around the US last year. No fee, COBOL e-learning courses are also open, year-round, to college students worldwide.

    • Mainframe Application Developer Standard: To further extend the competence-base, IBM has also developed a Mainframe Software Development model in collaboration with a variety of clients. That program is licensed as an apprenticeship with the Department of Labor and COBOL preparation is integrated into the curriculum to satisfy the demands of the marketplace.
    • A robust ecosystem of partners: Globally, COBOL preparation is provided through our Partner Ecosystem. For example, interskill offers a large range of e-learning courses and for COBOL about 1,000 digital badges were released.

    We also inform our customers about IBM Talent Match, a tool designed to directly match employees with established mainframe expertise.

    Employers easily register with the Talent Match provider to identify suitable applicants by expertise, checked IBM professional qualifications, or venue, and then evaluate and communicate with prospective candidates after viewing their profiles and social media connections.

    For more information, please visit

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