Link to BBC Homepage

Front Page







World News in Audio

On Air


Talking Point


Low Graphics


Site Map

Tuesday, December 23, 1997 Published at 18:04 GMT


Mature skills to fight millennium bug
image: [ Pensioners' knowledge of old computer languages is proving invaluable ]
Pensioners' knowledge of old computer languages is proving invaluable

A `Dads' Army' of retired computer programmers is being recruited in Britain to help deal with the problem of computers not being able to recognize the year 2000.

Computer systems and support company ICL has employed 60 retired people to help make sure clients' programmes function beyond the year 2000.

The pensioners' knowledge of old computer languages is proving invaluable to the company.

[ image: John Venn never imagined his skills would be in demand again]
John Venn never imagined his skills would be in demand again
John Venn, now in his 60s, thought he was destined to while away his retirement in the garden.

But all of a sudden his talents, in particular his knowledge of the programming language Cobol, are in demand again.

He said: "I never thought anyone would be interested in my knowledge of Cobol but it seems it is now suddenly becoming useful again."

Countries all over the world are having to tackle the problem of computers being unable to recognise the new year "00" when their internal clocks strike midnight on December 31, 1999.

The results could be catastrophic as computer systems ranging from air traffic control to bill collection grind to a halt, thinking time has gone back to 1900.

The worldwide cost of putting the problem right is estimated to be more than £400 billion.

Alan Rowley, Director of Year 2000 at ICL, said: "You cannot simply throw fresh graduates at the year 2000 problem.

"It is a business issue which requires the type of skills that only come with experience. There is not enough time to train even the best new starters to the standards required.

"Year 2000 solutions require people with the relevant programming and business skills who can hit the ground running."

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage


Link to BBC Homepage

Relevant Stories

06 Nov 97†|†Sci/Tech
Survey says 'digital doomsday' fixes don't work

10 Nov 97†|†Business
Insurers take steps to avoid 'millennium bug' payouts

08 Dec 97†|†Special Report
Looking East to answer millennium conundrum

Internet Links


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online

UK Contents

Northern Ireland