Bridging the Demand Gap For Blockchain Talent With Education
The growing shortage of blockchain developers is a well-documented concern that has been touted since the elevation of the technology into the mainstream.
At the end of 2017, the Gartner Hype Cycle For Emerging Technology placed Bitcoin at the “Peak of Inflated Hype Cycle” as cryptocurrency prices soared and “blockchain” became the tech buzzword of the year.
Despite the seemingly unrealistic hype, there has been an unparalleled demand for blockchain developers as legacy enterprises and crypto-focused startups look to build upon on the early-stage technology. IBM and Mastercard have already filed more than 80 patents each for blockchain-related technology, and companies are struggling to find sufficient talent to develop their initiatives.
The demand for blockchain developers was initially hindered by a lack of understanding about the technology and minimal available resources for professionals -- particularly developers -- to learn more about it. However, that has changed over the last couple of years with online programs, university courses, and workshops popping up at an impressive rate.
ComputerWorld highlighted the extent of this demand in May earlier this year citing a Q1 2018 Upwork report that detailed how blockchain developer freelancing grew at a year-over-year rate of 6,000 percent. Further, a study by SAP in March determined that 92 percent of business leaders surveyed viewed blockchain as an opportunity, with Supply Chain & IoT one of the leading practical applications.
As demand for blockchain developers surges, the available talent lags behind. This has not only led to frustration on the part of companies looking to integrate blockchain-focused solutions but also increasingly high rates to acquire blockchain developers. According to Paysa, the average blockchain developer salary in the U.S. is $95,545 with top earners receiving an average salary of roughly $140,000. This places blockchain developers among some of the highest paid developers out of any professional field.
While the opportunity for developers to make a significant salary is there, the gap between talent demand and supply is still substantial. Many companies with extensive resources and technical talent -- such as IBM -- are turning to the in-house education of blockchain skills as well as outsourcing to a millennial generation that has shown a predilection for blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies.
The amount and quality of resources on cryptocurrencies and blockchains -- both from a development and general knowledge perspective -- have come along way since only a couple of years ago. Online programs like Udacity’s Nanodegree for Blockchain Developers and Coursera’s suite of blockchain courses are excellent tools for self-motivated developers looking to transfer their skills to an up and coming field.
Developer tools such as Truffle Suite and CryptoZombies have also progressed into invaluable resources for learning to code smart contracts, build dApps, and understand how blockchains function at the protocol level.
More formal educational material and services have also emerged among some of the top universities including Stanford’s Center for Blockchain Research, Blockchain at Berkeley, and Kingsland University Blockchain Programming curriculum. These educational initiatives provide developers, and even non-developers, the opportunity to take comprehensive courses on the complicated concepts of the underlying technology as well as how to become professional developers in the field.
A Stevie-award winner, Kingsland University receives curriculum advice and material from industry experts such as Riccardo Spagni (Monero) and Steven Dakh (Ethereum). Kingsland has also recently partnered with the Tezos Foundation as part of an initiative to support the training of 1,000 Tezos-focused developers as well as integrate Tezos educational material into their curriculum offering.
This is a considerable move for the industry as the Tezos Foundation will be creating a talent pool for driving innovation and growth on their platform. Education is a vital aspect of onboarding new users and developers, and the Tezos Foundation is providing a career-building opportunity for students facing daunting student loan burdens or limited traditional job prospects.
Bridging the educational gap for both developers and non-developers is vital to overcoming the current shortage of blockchain development in the market. While education is often enough to get professionals started, connecting them to adequate resources and opportunities is also a significant part of meeting the demand for blockchain developers. Programs such as Howard University’s Blockchain Lab -- in partnership with Consensys -- afford students the opportunity to connect with professionals and drive awareness of the growing field.
Kingsland University also offers incubators, accelerators, a career centre, and collaborative partnerships for companies to tap into their certified developer pools.
There have been significant advances on the educational front of blockchain and cryptocurrency technology. The demand for blockchain developers is proliferating, and the opportunity for established developers in other fields to transition into a burgeoning field has never been greater.