Blockchain Skill Shortage: Australia Can't Keep Up With Surging Demand

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Blockchain Skills Shortage

Blockchain Skills Shortage

Blockchain job positions posted on popular Australian employment platforms Seek and Indeed reveal Sydney and Melbourne based jobs offering salaries in excess of $150,000 annually, with some positions closing in on $300,000.

Demand for blockchain skills has skyrocketed over the last two years throughout Australia and Asia, creating a job market in which blockchain developers command a salary premium of over $300,000. A lack of blockchain developers, however, has left Australian enterprises fighting over skilled individuals in a small talent pool.

The progressive growth of blockchain technology, driven by the development of robust scalability solutions, has captured the attention of enterprise organizations around the world. Once focused solely on the development of cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology is now being seriously considered by governments, agile startups, and large corporations alike.

The advantages blockchain technology offers the enterprise sector has led to large-scale companies such as JPMorgan, Sequoia Capital, Amazon, Mastercard, LG, and Samsung all seriously investigating the potential benefits of launching their own private DLT solutions.

Finding individuals that possess the required skills to create enterprise-grade blockchain solutions, however, is proving difficult for businesses of all sizes. LinkedIn 2018 Emerging Jobs Report lists "blockchain developer" as the number one emerging job of the last year, exhibiting a 33X growth over 2018. Despite the rapid growth job availability, however, a serious skills shortage in Australia and Asia has made talented blockchain developers hard to find.

Blockchain Job Market Explodes

Blockchain-related job openings have increased dramatically since the beginning of 2018. Data available from analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies demonstrates a 316% increase over the total number of job postings requiring blockchain skills in US markets, representing tens of thousands of blockchain jobs.

The international market for blockchain skills, however, is even larger. Freelance job market UpWork listed "blockchain" as the number one fastest-growing skill at the beginning of the 2018/2019 financial year, highlighting a 3,500 percent year-over-year growth rate in the UpWork Q2 2018 Skills Index report.

"Fortune 500 companies continue to incorporate blockchain into existing infrastructure"
Blockchain (#1) - topped the list as the fastest-growing skill in Q2 out of more than 5,000 on Upwork.com for the second consecutive quarter. Its year-over-year growth has exceeded 2,000 percent for the past four quarters, and it experienced more than 3,500 percent year-over-year growth in Q2."

The high demand for blockchain skills is driven by a massive increase in interest from enterprise organizations survey data available from Deloitte reveals that 74 percent of global executives surveyed state the major organizations that they represent see a compelling use case for distributed ledger technology.

Enterprise interest in blockchain technology is growing in accordance with the anticipated financial gains offered by the efficiency with which distributed ledger technology is able to optimize existing business architecture. A 2018 Gartner report predicts that the cumulative business value-add offered by blockchain technology will exceed $360 billion by 2026 and subsequently skyrocket to over $3.1 trillion by 2030.

LinkedIn employment data focusing on the Australian job market reveals a dramatic increase in new positions targeted toward individuals that possess blockchain skills, with major organizations such as IBM, Accenture, and the CSIRO all seeking blockchain research scientists, blockchain technology advisory consultants, and blockchain technical leads.

Blockchain Skills, Ranked by Demand

There are a number of specific skills associated with blockchain development. LinkedIn economic growth data reveals the top skills for blockchain developers as:

  • Solidity
  • Blockchain
  • Ethereum
  • Cryptocurrency

While terms such as blockchain and cryptocurrency are relatively generic, the other highest-rated skills provide insight into the ways blockchain technology is being integrated into the enterprise environment.

Solidity is the object-oriented programming language that is used to compose smart contracts on the Ethereum network, which is currently the most interesting and flexible blockchain platform from an enterprise perspective. The
Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, which focuses on establishing open-source standards-based blockchain specifications specifically for enterprise applications, boasts a member list that includes Microsoft, Santander, JPMorgan, and Intel.

Node.js, on the other hand, is an open-source JavaScript runtime environment that is a fundamental element of the architecture of most blockchain networks. JavaScript is often referred to as the language of the web and is uniquely suited to the development of blockchain networks, tools, APIs, and frontend layers.

Enterprise organizations and blockchain startups are seeking talented individuals that are able to leverage these skills in order to manifest the benefits promised by blockchain technology into tangible real-world applications that positively impact the bottom line but where can you learn them?

Blockchain Skills Education

The relatively nascent nature of blockchain in the technological world, combined with the fast-moving nature of blockchain technology, has created an academic environment that has only recently caught up to practical development.

Australia, however, boasts one of the most advanced academic blockchain environments in the world. In February 2018, RMIT University announced the launch of the first-ever university course on blockchain strategy developed by the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub, specifically focusing on assisting business leaders in developing a nuanced understanding of blockchain technology.

RMIT blockchain curriculum has subsequently expanded, and now offers three blockchain courses: Developing Blockchain Strategy, Designing Blockchain Solutions, and Developing Blockchain Applications. The RMIT blockchain education curriculum is aimed squarely at students seeking to develop the skills necessary to design and implement business blockchain solutions.

Other Australian university blockchain courses are available at the University of Technology Sydney and Latrobe University. In addition to university courses, however, there are hundreds of online Solidity courses that provide developers with the tools they need to dive headfirst into the lucrative blockchain job market.

How Much Do Blockchain Skills Earn?

Salaries for skilled blockchain positions have grown in sync with employment demand over the last year, with blockchain developer positions commanding hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

Data published by US-based employment firm Hired reveals that blockchain engineers and developers are currently earning between $150,000 and $175,000 USD annually, a significant premium over the $135,000 USD average software engineer salary.

Further data available from management consulting firm Janco Associates indicates that blockchain developers command salaries beyond $170,000 USD, making blockchain development one of the highest-paying tech jobs available.

Blockchain job positions posted on popular Australian employment platforms Seek and Indeed reveal Sydney and Melbourne based jobs offering salaries in excess of $150,000 annually, with some positions closing in on $300,000.

Where to Find Australian Blockchain Jobs

There are currently few Australian platforms focused specifically on blockchain development. The fast-moving, progressive nature of blockchain technology leads many startups to seek talent via remote job boards and LinkedIn, but traditional enterprise organizations are not so quick to embrace the complex management structure associated with decentralized work teams.

Australian blockchain jobs can be found on both Seek and Indeed, but a growing number of dedicated Australian blockchain job sites provide talented blockchain developers with an industry-specific pool of potential employers.

Crypto News Australia, for example, operates a dedicated Australian blockchain and cryptocurrency job board that allows blockchain-skilled job seekers to remain up to date on new Australian blockchain job listings via Job Alerts, as well as providing Australian blockchain recruitment teams with candidate alerts.

The Rise of the Blockchain Mercenary

Blockchain technology isn't only disrupting the way businesses manage data and perform international remittances. The job market itself is becoming decentralized — smart contracts and cryptocurrencies have created a growing new employment ecosystem in which freelancers and consultants are able to engage with organizations seeking blockchain talent in a truly trustless manner.

2018 year of the ICO saw the launch of several successful blockchain employment platforms such as Ethlance, Blocklancer, and Cryptotask, all of which allow job seekers to engage with organizations on an as-needed basis. These platforms offer reputation, escrow, work delivery, time tracking, and escrow all managed via smart contracts on-chain.

In addition to blockchain-based job markets, blockchain technology has also created a market in which talented individuals are able to seek out bounties for a range of tasks such as ICO promotion and penetration testing. Ethereum, for example, has been operating a bounty program that reimburses enterprising developers that identify Ethereum bugs and flaws for several years.

Decentralized penetration testing platform Hacken.io takes this concept a step further, operating the HackenProof bug bounty and coordination platform which allows white-hat hackers to take on crowdsourced cybersecurity testing gigs.

Blockchain mercenary work offers location-independent technical experts lucrative opportunities. Traditional enterprise organizations are still offering extremely salaries for skilled in-house blockchain developers and engineers at a high volume, however making the blockchain employment ecosystem a sellers market.

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Samuel Deering
@cryptonews_aus
since: 03/2018
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