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



UK

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."








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