Perceived value and aggressive adoption in an emerging field combine to produce overwhelming demand for qualified talent

Udacity
Udacity
Jun 21, 2018 · 5 min read

Over the many months spent researching the blockchain space, and determining the right program to best support our students, the one overwhelming fact we encountered time and time again was that demand for blockchain talent significantly exceeds the amount of qualified developers currently in the field.

From a program standpoint, the way forward was clear, and with our Blockchain Developer Nanodegree program now launched, we can pause a moment to reflect on why demand is so high.

The Bitcoin Factor

Blockchain’s association in the public eye with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin is certainly one reason why blockchain is in the news with such frequency, but this doesn’t account for either the actual demand for talent, nor the widespread interest in adopting the technology.

A May 2018 article from Forbes offers a succinct explanation for why it’s important to understand blockchain separate from digital currencies:

“Blockchain is the technology stack or enabler behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. And regardless of whether cryptocurrencies turn out to be an enormous bubble, the underlying blockchain technology has indisputable and genuine value. In one form or another, blockchain will have an enormous impact on how digital business gets done long into the future.”

In short, cryptocurrencies may ebb and flow, and come and go, but blockchain is here to stay.

Trust

This of course begs the question, what is blockchain for, if NOT currency? A simple answer might be, trust. Reporter Ron Miller, writing in TechCrunch in April of this year, addresses this question with a specific use case:

“Every time I talk to someone about the viability of blockchain, I get challenged to show a real project beyond the obvious bitcoin use case. IBM has been working to build large enterprise projects blockchain and today they offered an irrefutable example that they have dubbed TrustChain, a blockchain that proves the provenance of jewelry by following the supply chain from mine to store.”

If we proceed from the assumption that blockchain technology is all about trust, we can start to see why blockchain is so appealing. A recent article from Fox Business describes FedEx’s blockchain plans, and the author neatly summarizes the wide-ranging appeal of what the technology offers:

“Using blockchain, FedEx hopes to minimize disputes about payments or postage or when and where a package was received. It will help the company be compliant under the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulations. It should enable their customers to receive information faster and more accurately and their customer service people to solve problems in a more rapid manner. Company executives also believe that blockchain will help them operate more efficiently and position the organization to handle growth, particularly as the economies in the U.S. and other countries continue to expand.”

Dispute resolution. Privacy compliance. Faster and more accurate problem-solving. Operational efficiency. Growth enablement. Is it any wonder the FedEx CEO is so bullish on blockchain?

“It’s the next frontier that’s going to completely change worldwide supply chains.” — Frederick W. Smith, CEO, FedEx

When we were designing the Blockchain Developer Nanodegree program, we knew the supply chain use case was a critical one—it’s why we made it the centerpiece of the program’s Capstone Project:

Project 8: Capstone Project

For your capstone project, you are tasked with developing your own blockchain solution to solve a supply chain problem.

For your chosen industry and customer need, you will work end-to-end from building your architecture (centralised, decentralised), and choosing your technology stack (front end, back end), to surfacing the protocol and blockchain features to the DApp layer, to experimenting, learning, and collaborating with other open-source projects to complete your project.

Security and Privacy

Returning to the idea of trust, it’s virtually impossible to consider the subject without also considering issues of security and privacy. Danny Wesley, writing on Hackernoon, details an important distinction between these two concepts with an article entitled: Messenger Problem: Why “Secure” Does Not Mean “Private” and How to Fix This With Blockchain. In the post, he writes:

“In a world where officials in different countries are trying to limit anonymity on the internet and corporations are trying to collect as much personal information to mine for profit … the only way to ensure privacy is decentralization.”

As students in our program explore what the decentralized nature of blockchain makes possible, they work on projects focused on everything from managing blockchain identity, to signing and validation, to creating smart contracts. In the program’s fifth project, students build a smart contract, create a notary service, and deploy it on Ethereum blockchain.

Rapid Adoption and Rising Demand

Ultimately, the reason why demand is so high for people with blockchain skills, is because businesses are adopting the technology so aggressively. A recent article from ComputerWorld pulls together a pair of key findings:

So what we have today is a situation in which businesses are recognizing the value of adopting blockchain, but they’re faced with a talent landscape that makes it challenging to find the qualified developers they need. Udacity’s Director of Learning Products Roshni Jain wrote about this issue when introducing the new Blockchain Developer Nanodegree program:

“A critical point for aspiring blockchain developers to recognize is that this is still an emerging field. So not only is there wide-open opportunity, but competition for jobs is happening on a comparatively level playing field, because no one is yet in a position to have extensive experience in the field — the space is still too new. In a climate like this, recruiters and hiring managers have to adopt new strategies, as a recent Bloomberg article noted: ‘To hire the best blockchain developers, recruiters might have to take new routes and be flexible about job requirements.’”

Blockchain is indeed still an emerging field, and the technology promises a great deal in the way of trust and security. The extent to which it delivers on this promise, and provides the value businesses expect it to, will depend in no small part on the next generation of developers who enter the field. These aspiring blockchain developers now have the Udacity Blockchain Developer Nanodegree program available to them as a learning path—and a launchpad for their careers—and we look forward to seeing how they impact the field, and shape the future.

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This post was written by Christopher Watkins, Senior Writer and Chief Words Officer, Udacity

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