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Large enterprises struggle to find personnel to maintain legacy IT systems

(Image credit: Image Credit: Christina Morillo / Pexels)

As the older generation of workers begins to retire, many businesses are left with legacy IT systems and no one to maintain or modernize them.

This is according to a new report from software provider Advanced, based on a poll of 400 people working for large enterprises, which states that 89 percent worry about not having access to the right IT talent.

Furthermore, two in five (37 percent) admitted to having failed modernization attempts due to a lack of knowledge surrounding contemporary technologies such as cloud. Others, meanwhile, said modernization attempts failed due to insufficient planning.

While most organizations sought to modernize their systems during the pandemic, a third worried about experienced staff retiring and taking their legacy skills with them.

The situation is worsened by the fact almost a third (29 percent) find their staff are unwilling to learn legacy skills, despite the fact that this knowledge is still in high demand.

The State of New Jersey experienced the problem first-hand, when the number of registered unemployed people spiked by 1,600% at the start of the pandemic. The surge crashed the IT system, prompting the state’s governor to issue a plea for anyone well-versed in the COBOL programming language to help out. 

COBOL is more than 60 years old but “remains the most prominent language in the mainframe estate for 75 percent of the enterprises surveyed”, Advanced says.

“The State of New Jersey isn’t an isolated example,” said Tim Jones, Managing Director of Application Modernisation EMEA at Advanced. “Many organizations worldwide are struggling to find the skilled staff needed to maintain and manage their critical systems. If programmers with expertise in the most prominent languages are retiring and taking their skills with them, large enterprises will continue to experience huge disruption to their operations.”

“And, as they move their mainframe estate to a modern environment like the cloud, enterprises could also end up overcompensating on the skills imbalance by hyper-focusing on recruiting modern skills and disregarding the need for legacy talent. It’s important they cross-train existing talent to improve existing staff’s ability to support both legacy and modern systems, particularly during and after a major modernization initiative.”

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a freelance journalist with more than 15 years of experience in writing various types of content, from blogs, whitepapers, and reviews to ebooks, and many more, across sites including Al Jazeera Balkans, TechRadar Pro, IT Pro Portal, and CryptoNews.