Two newspaper articles tell the story. In the United States, there is a shortage of experienced COBOL programmers. It's not just a shortage "at some price." It's a literal shortage of programmers. They do not exist, yet they are vital to fixing the problem. It's not a want -- price-sensitive -- but a need: a life-or-death requiremrent.
The WASHINGTON POST (March 2, 1997), front page, reported that Prof. Howard Rubin of Hunter College in New York City has estimated that the United States will need an additional
500,000 to 700,000 experienced COBOL programmers between 1997 and the year 2000. Rubin is a professor of computer science.
In Great Britain, Robin Guenier has been sounding the alarm. He says that companies -- not counting the government -- will need 300,000 additional experienced COBOL programmers. This is the number of full- time programmers in Great Britain. (Reuter's story, April 11, 1997)
We are not considering Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, all of Europe, or any other nation.
We are not considering the need for programmers who "speak" RPG (500,000 systems use it, according to Grayson Lynn), PL/1, Ada, or any of 390+ other mainframe computer languages, most of which are forgotten by today's generation of mainframe programmers.
In short, if these estimates are even remotely correct, y2k can't be fixed. It won't be fixed.
Make your plans accordingly.