Java retraining costs will be high

Java: Research reveals the high price of retraining and retaining developers to create e-business apps.

Java: Research reveals the high price of retraining and retaining developers to create e-business apps.

Java: Research reveals the high price of retraining and retaining developers to create e-business apps

Antony Adshead

The cost of retraining software developers in the Java programming language could be as high as £40,000, research by GartnerGroup has revealed.

Retraining will cost enterprises something close to a Cobol developer's salary, the report finds.

Training takes one month and trainees also require another month to assimilate the information, during which time, the study estimates, $9,000 (£6,200) will be spent on training and $12,000 will be clocked up in lost productivity.

On top of this enterprises are advised to be aware that for about 10 months "Cobol migrants" will not work as efficiently as "Java veterans".

However, some training professionals said the cost was the least of the obstacles. Laurent Chen, chief technical officer for recruitment company Spring, said, "I find the report optimistic.

"The main question in this type of retraining is suitability because Cobol and Java are two very different languages - the thinking needed is very different. Cobol has a much more gradual structure to it than Java, which is object oriented," he added.

The Gartner report says there is a high risk of a retrained employee moving to another employer. To obviate this, the consultancy advises a minimum salary rise of 10% for casual developers and 20% for professionals.

There are some alternatives to retraining, suggests Gartner. These include outsourcing, employing ready-trained Java developers or considering non-Java technology.

However, Chen added a fourth - the use of application tools developed by professional programmers but used as components by less skilled developers.

But Richard Herring, of recruitment group Reed Computing, said all the alternatives were unrealistic. "Outsourcing is costly but viable. So is employing ready-trained Java developers, but they are difficult to find - that is why companies are cross training. And considering non-Java technology is very difficult, this puts the company out of step with the rest of the market," he said.

Professional Java developers are categorised as those who will "use an architectural approach with rigorous analysis and design" while casual Java developers will merely undertake the construction of simple applets and servlets.

Cobol to Java - the bottom line

Total expense of training and retaining a Cobol developer

Training £6,200

Loss of productivity during training £8,300

Loss of productivity during Java adoption £13,800

Retaining trained Java developer £11,000

Total £39,300

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