I won't deny that Cobol courses exist, but the fact is that most schools are no longer placing an emphasis on Cobol. Given the vast amounts of data and systems currently running Cobol, I willingly admit that this is likely to pose difficulties for code maintenance and other issues further down the road.
To the many who have cited the open-source movement as the catalyst thrusting Cobol into a "full-throttled resurgence," to quote one reader, you will be disappointed to learn that none has produced a Cobol-compliant compiler. Two relatively active projects, Tiny Cobol compiler for Linux and Cobol for GCC, embarked in 1999 to produce Cobol 85 compilers (not Cobol 97). Both are stalled in prealpha stage..
There are now no open-source compilers for Cobol available under the GNU General Public License. In fact, there are currently no free, fully functional, commonly known Cobol development environments that could be recommended for enterprise use.
If you're looking for a free compiler for Windows, Fujitsu offers its Version 3 starter set, but for database connectivity you will need to upgrade to Version 4.0. A shareware DOS compiler (Cobol 650) is available from www.flexus.com; however, it is outdated, there is no known source code, and the author died several years ago, according to Flexus.
A boon to open-source development will likely come by way of the public release of a Cobol test suite from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The package should enable faster testing of Cobol 85 standards development and help move these projects through to completion in a more timely manner.
The comparisons I drew in the article do not pit Cobol against Java or any other language. There is no "one size fits all" method for selecting a programming language. Each has been developed to fill a particular niche or service, and as in anything, you must choose the right tool for the right job.
Finally, if anyone is hiring Cobol programmers, I have résumés from people blaming me for their layoffs. Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.