Unix Knowledge Just Not As Important To Today’s Job Market

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 12:37 am

Anecdotal evidence suggests Lotus Notes expertise is still very much in demand, so maybe this has just been an abnormal quarter (last time its growth rate was 33%). None the less, it has fallen six places in the table as a result.

The biggest growth was shown by Java, with the jobs on offer up nearly threefold to 2,800, raising it 12 places in the table. This is testimony to the continuing rise in interest in Web-based applications, as shown also by a 72% increase in demand for generic Internet-related skills (now 27th) and a doubling in demand for HTML expertise (now 34th).


Only one other skill in the top 25 featured in more than twice as many ads as a year ago, and that was SQL, up from 2,800 to 5,700 posts. It remains firmly esconsed in the top 10 in eighth place. Two other skills that just failed to reach 100% growth were Windows NT-up from 4,900 to 9,700 posts – and, one place outside the top 25, SAP, which appeared in just under 1,500 advertisements this time.

The others that showed more than average growth in demand were, in descending order, Visual Basic, object-oriented programming, Access, Delphi, Oracle, RPG400, Ingres and Cics.

Apart from the last three, all the skills listed as growing in popularity in 1998 are new wave products. This suggests the boom in IT recruitment is being fuelled by a combination of a flourishing UK. economy and a chronic shortage of skilled IT personnel, rather than short-term factors such as the year 2000 issue.

RPG400 owes its return to the top 10 to a resurgence in recruitment by AS/400 sites – this sector showed the biggest increase in demand over the quarter. Cics, similarly, is showing a growth rate almost identical to that of IBM mainframe recruitment overall.

Curiously, DB2 has not shared in this growth – demand here was up just 28%, compared to 55% for IBM mainframe staff generally and 57% for Cics expertise.

Two older IBM mainframe database products, IMS and IDMS, showed much bigger growth. IMS appeared in twice the number of ads as a year ago (620) and IDMS in nearly three times as many (500, 75% of which were in IBM sites), and these two skills are now in 40th and 44th places respectively.

Other IBM mainframe legacy skills to appear in more than twice as many ads as a year ago were PL/I (850 posts, now 33rd in the fist, its highest position since 1993), DL1 (490, 46th) and JCL (450, 50th). There is perhaps a year 2000 factor here – IBM mainframe sites are clearly looking for a greater proportion of staff with legacy skills than in early 1997.

But the numbers are so small in the context of 65,000 jobs on offer in total, that this does not materially affect the overall picture


Cobol, the epitome of legacy skills, has shown growth of 52%, which is very much in line with the overall market growth and of the rise in IBM mainframe recruitment (more than four out of five Cobol jobs are in these sites). As a result it has actually fallen a place in the table, as demand for Visual Basic has risen at a significantly faster rate.

Taking a long-term view, it is instructive to look back four years to that first quarter of 1994, when Unix moved into the first place it has held till now. The changes in the skills most in demand then and now are remarkably few, and most of these were not widely forecast in 1994.

Of the 10 skills most in demand four years ago. eight remain in the top 10 today.

Those that have dropped out are Ingres and Lan, and their replacements are Windows NT (which was down in 43rd place in the first quarter of 1994) and Visual Basic.

Apart from Ingres. only four others dropped out of the top 20 MS-Dos, VMS, graphical user interface (GUI) and Informix. Their replacements are Java, Powerbuilder, Office and object programming.

So, comparing the two tables, we can see the rise of Windows NT. and the growth in interest in the Internet (as represented by Java), in object-oriented programming (both as a generic skill and in terms of the displacement of C by C++), and in more modern application development methods (as represented by Visual Basic and Powerbuilder).

Offsetting that, MS-Dos and Vax VMS have fallen from favour, while all the open systems databases apart from Oracle have lost significant popularity.

The biggest surprises, though, are what have not happened. Cobol and RPG400, far from disappearing, are today in more or less the same places as they were then.

The mainframe, which many in 1994 thought would be extinct by now, is still represented by DB2 (in exactly the same place) and by Cics (actually five places higher), as well as by Cobol.

Categories: Platforms

Post a Comment