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The Future of Jobs in Blockchain Demands a Flexible Approach to Education

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There is a lot of scaremongering regarding the path towards a future filled with AI and Automation but realistically we are having trouble filling some of the existing roles in the marketplace. Gathering together the most recent data on the cryptocurrency and blockchain jobs market, recent reports suggest that the demand for skills within the sector far outways the current supply available. It is time to start asking the right questions; Why isn’t this demand being met within our educational institutions? Are the next generation of business leaders familiar with the world of Blockchain technology and the real world applications it offers? 

Demand for cryptocurrency and blockchain related expertise has increased exponentially in the last year. Spurred by new innovations such as DeFi and NFT and higher levels of institutional adoption, there has been consistent growth across many of the major blockchain projects. 

The top five blockchain jobs emerging include blockchain Software engineer, analyst relations manager, product manager, front-end engineer and technology architect. Companies hiring in the blockchain space range from small start up teams to VC-funded projects to tech giants. Infrastructural projects, payment services and data driven creative projects are all hiring right now and expressing the need for more industry specific experience.

The issue for Higher Education is the pace at which the DeFi industry moves. Universities and colleges that are able to build flexible curriculums, easily adapted to accommodate new advances in decentralised technology, will win in the minds of the students who need to embrace these skills for the future. Also, hiring within traditional education settings needs to be evaluated. How open are the current lecturers to adopt new technology in the classroom and include new research about the technology in student reading lists? If education wants to stay relevant it needs to adopt a bottom up approach to harnessing the skills for the future. Earlier this month the Kautz Institute at the University of Cincinnati hosted an evening to discuss NFTs with a broad spectrum of speakers including lecturers and NFT artists. This forward thinking approach to learning needs to be replicated across all mainstream campuses. Universities that recognise the potential of blockchain technology and adopt the best approaches to embedding vetted course material will be best positioned to prepare students for the future of work. 

The supply needs to be met to match the current demand. Students are interested, blockchain organisations need a skilled workforce and colleges need a broad range of qualified instructors to guide students in the world of blockchain ecosystems. 

Ryan Williams, Executive Director of The Blockchain Academy explains why adoption of blockchain specific training within higher education is essential: “We are seeing a growing demand for the courses and truly believe that blockchain ed will play an important role in developing the skills of the future workforce.”

It is well reported that historically Universities have played a vital role in getting new industries off the ground. However, the world of decentralised finance is somewhat sceptical of traditional institutions and vice versa. This means that the eagerly awaiting learner resorts to community led learning or self-education through the many online platforms. With this approach however, the student is often left overwhelmed, without credentials and without the motivation often needed to complete a course. 

CoinDesk ranked the top 20 Universities for Blockchain in 2020, it found that 14 of the top 20 schools are private. Not surprisingly, MIT had the most blockchain publications between 2018 – 2020. Harvard has the highest number of student placings in the blockchain industry overall. This study may highlight an issue in itself. Although the world of blockchain aims to support decentralisation and greater access to the technology being developed, mainstream adoption is creating its own hierarchy and limiting the creation and adoption of blockchain courses to private schools will have a negative knock on effect on the industry. Read more about this study here

If we are to better understand the applications of blockchain technology and how it may be aligned with the future of work we must familiarise ourselves with the many types of chains in existence and how they are currently being used. Only then can we evaluate the changes required across the broader educational system. In the meantime the surge in blockchain technology is driving the jobs market with non-technical roles like marketing, design and management on an upwards trajectory.

As more robots perform more jobs, unemployment rates will increase. However with a renewed, flexible approach to education the skills required to access new jobs should be attainable.