The blockchain technology is emergent, complex, novel, full of challenges and severely short of skills and talent. The challenges like transaction costs, scalability, governance, human error, security flaws, legality and haphazard competition among blockchains are piling up and need to be addressed. The technological development goes on and evolves gradually through a never-ending cycle of problems- attracting brighter minds at every critical stage with the challenge to solve the world’s hardest riddles and unveiling the potential of the disruptive technologies like blockchain.
The shortage of blockchain talents has become a key concern and a critical inhibitor to blockchain technology adoption in businesses across a range of industries. Bloomberg mentions that on LinkedIn the blockchain-based job postings increased by 4 times in 2017. In addition, the COs raised around $3.6 billion USD in 2017. Investment is heavily being made into blockchain projects and when these companies’ intended funds usage is published, we often see that a huge slice of the pie goes to hiring the blockchain developers. There is only one problem; there is a lack of sufficient blockchain talent to fill these jobs.
Dr. Jane Thomason, the CEO of Abt Association, says that there is a lack of blockchain developers and getting more qualified blockchain developers is the key for the blockchain companies to avoid various risk factors in future. Developing a next generation of blockchain developers means key transformation in education systems. Students in schools are educated for the jobs that won’t even exist. LinkedIn is posted with an increasing number of blockchain jobs and the top developers are earning over half a million dollarsa year.
Vlad Zamfir, a blockchain researcher at the Ethereum Foundation, states that there is indeed a big shortage of the blockchain talent, both in terms of researchers and developers. Basically, the blockchain technology is quite multidisciplinary and a sort of intersection between distributed systems, cryptography, mechanism design and consensus protocol. Hence, it is very difficult to find a professional who has expertise in all these disciplines.
The Consequential Risk Factors for the Companies Due to Shortage of Blockchain Talent
Now the question is what are the risk factors for the companies failing to have sufficient blockchain talent. We have already started to see the impact of the gap between supply and demand for the blockchain developers. Many mainstream crypto projects have reported the challenges while scaling up the development teams. Think of the recent situation in Japan, where the blockchain initiatives in financial institutions were constrained in 2017 due to insufficient technical talent. The demand is only going to increase since the blockchain technology industry has been forecasted to increase by 7 times by the end of 2021.
Koichiro Wada, the CEO of Coincheck, states that while his company knew about the staff shortage, initially in internal controls, risk division and management, they were unable to do much about it since the market showed a severe shortage of the qualified blockchain professionals. This adds another point to the list of risk factors that the companies are facing, including government regulations, lawsuits, thefts, bank crackdowns, negative coverage in media etc.
The companies having a rooting interest and funding in crypto are at the highest risk. More team building blockchain projects will find their growth slowed or slammed by the lack of the qualified blockchain coders. Investors backing these blockchain projects may realize the unavailability of return in future and stop their investment. With more projects failed, the possibility of intense regulations on the industry may also increase. And since the crypto apps know how to make money, the hiring cost of blockchain developers might escalate too much for all but the Facebooks, Amazons and Googles of the world to afford, which would be another artificial revolution remade to facilitate the rich get richer.
The lack of experienced and qualified blockchain talent puts the crypto companies at risk. It also presents a big opportunity at the same time. It’s a high time for the blockchain companies, ICOs and professionals interested in making blockchain as their career, to learn to build the blockchain community together. Lastly, the core researchers and developers must be employed by various companies and the knowledge of technical blockchain considerations underlying the protocol upgrades should be democratized.