With all the interest surrounding blockchain tech, it’s not surprising that there’s been a rise in demand for qualified blockchain developers. In fact, blockchain skills now top the list of requirements for developer jobs, growing by more than 6,000 percent since this time last year.
So, how are top companies and governments working to fill the talent gap? If freelance sites like Upwork are already reporting an explosion in demand for qualified developers (blockchain was the most demanded skill in the first quarter of 2018), what will the future look like? If we don’t act now, the main hindrance to achieving a decentralized world could be a lack of talent.
Here are three key ways of filling the blockchain talent gap:
Global revenue from enterprise blockchain applications is expected to rise from $2.5 billion in 2017 to $19.9 billion by 2025. Many large companies are already a few steps ahead when it comes to keeping their talent pipeline warm.
IBM, for example, is already an active player in the blockchain space. They offer personalized training for blockchain professionals to top up their skills, as well as crossover courses for employees who want to break into the field.
Skipping the traditional recruitment route, new employees of IBM may not need a college degree, either. These types of “new collar” jobs are enabling smart people to start quicker and hone their skills early on.
Another company that’s big on fostering talent is blockchain giant ConsenSys, which is developing short, medium and long-term initiatives to bridge the skills gap.
Says the newly-appointed managing director of ConsenSys Ireland, Lory Kehoe, “We want to really focus on the fact that we think blockchain is a really big deal – not just to ConsenSys but Ireland, full stop. We need to have everybody primed to take advantage of these opportunities.”
The company’s short-term programs are for backend developers to learn more about Solidity and Ethereum-based applications. Medium-term courses are longer programs, around eight weeks, specially designed for people who want to cross over from traditional disciplines like mathematics and physics. And in the long term, ConsenSys is working with universities to develop Ph.D. courses.
At the Grassroots Level
The ConsenSys expansion into Ireland this year follows the lead of many major tech companies, including Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Not only is there a wide range of skilled technical personnel, but the Irish government is taking an interesting approach to developing talent for the long haul.
Keith Fingleton, CIO of IDA Ireland, the agency in charge of foreign direct investment in Ireland, stresses the importance of nurturing talent at a grassroots level. The agency is organizing programs that go into schools and teach programming skills in a fun environment. This is particularly effective at showing girls that programming is not only about punching code at keyboards.
He says, “If you’re just going after people as they’re filling out forms for which course they want to do at college, that’s too late; you can’t convince them. You need to reach them earlier on.” In fact, the CoderDojo initiative was started in Ireland to teach youngsters to code, and it’s since spread to many other countries around the world.
Allowing for Flexible and Remote Working
In the spirit of decentralized technology, blockchain itself can help fill its own particular talent gap. Ethereum has a bounty program which encourages people to discover bugs in the system and rewards them with ETH. Many companies are outsourcing to platforms like Upwork, and some governments are allowing for freer movement of talent.
In Ireland, they’re making it easy for the right people to come in with fast-track programs for qualified talent. Says Fingleton, “We make the process very easy to get non-EU technical talent to work for your company.”
So, if you’re staring into the ever-widening talent gap, biting your nails, the time to act is now. Look internally at your company’s pipeline. Work with the government to foster your country’s domestic pipeline, and make use of freedom of movement and freelance working.
As we become increasingly ‘blockchainized’, perhaps freedom of movement will finally do away with the physical barriers in a decentralized world.