Written by Donika Kraeva
The demand for blockchain engineers is at an all-time high. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the market cap for cryptocurrency increased from $17.7 billion to $565.1 billion last year. Now that more startups are embracing decentralized systems and existing businesses are offering cryptocurrency-related services, there’s an increasing need for highly-skilled professionals. However, there seems to be a serious talent shortage in this field. That means the exponential growth of the industry has left companies competing for developers from the same tech pool.
So, what do we need to bridge the skill gap?
The Rise of Blockchain Tech
Today, we see blockchain reshaping several industries like retail and healthcare. Non-profit organizations and government agencies are also catching up, using blockchain to encourage trust through open and transparent networks.
Juniper Research conducted a study and found that venture capital investments in Blockchain and Bitcoin tech reached $300 million in the first six months of 2016 alone. Within a year, more than $1 billion had been diverted towards the development of blockchain startups.
One of these startups – globally applied and thus widely discussed lately – is Dentacoin. It’s the world’s first blockchain-based platform offering numerous applications and an industry-specific cryptocurrency to improve the access to, as well as the quality of dental care worldwide. With its insurance-like model, patients can receive lifelong preventive care through inexpensive fees paid in the DCN currency. Moreover, patients who maintain good oral hygiene through their mobile app, take surveys on their market research platform or give detailed feedback to their dentists are rewarded with the cryptocurrency, that can be used for covering dental services at more than 60 locations globally. Dentacoin is an example of a blockchain company that has successfully combined the skills of blockchain developers and real industry specialists (dentists, healthcare marketing specialists) to gain traction globally within a short time period.
Blockchain Training Programs
Despite being in its primary stages, blockchain is a rapidly evolving field, and even the academic world is aware of its potential. To bridge the skill gap in this area, universities all over the world are now working with private companies to provide blockchain-related training programs and courses.
Developers who are interested in acquiring blockchain skills will be able to do so through numerous open online courses. As mentioned, universities are also offering lectures to match the increasing demand of the job market. Stanford University, for instance, provides hands-on courses to developers, including a three-unit classroom lecture with lab sessions focused on Bitcoin applications.
Apart from these, there are even greater movements set in place to bridge the talent gap in the blockchain industry. Let’s take Ethereum for example. It provides an initiative program that rewards developers who delete bugs and security flaws with cryptocurrency. However, FundRequest took this approach up a notch when they started a decentralized platform for open source collaboration. Their goal is to get the entire community mobilized and engaged. From there, programmers who want to get involved with blockchain can find projects like SingularityNET, which aims to accelerate the growth of the network by offering bounties and initiatives.
Education and specialized training are the best solutions for addressing the shortage of blockchain talents. To bridge the gap, there must be a globalized approach to training programs. Courses must be made accessible to developers around the world. We would have a better shot at bridging the talent gap if we make more programs available today.
Bounties and development initiatives encourage programmers to take up skills that are in demand, especially relating to blockchain. But will these be enough to ensure the future of the entire industry?
To drive the industry forward, we must support blockchain research as well. Some of the most brilliant developers today have yet to acquire the skills to operate in this new space. When they do, they must have the resources to innovate and build the tools of tomorrow.