Shortfalls in key skills and talents slow Blockchain’s progress to mainstream adoption.

Griff Green, a crypto pioneer, said to a packed house during the Blockchain Expo London 2017 (@Blockcchain_Expo): “There was severe shortages in Ethereum resources, specifically Solidity developers, especially those with smart contracts experience.”

Our London correspondent Nick Ayton asks digital headhunter Philip Butler, director of Larson Digital, what impact the skills shortage is having on Blockchain.

Philip Butler says:  

“We don’t see many CVs coming across our desks, and so we have to search for Blockchain talent. In the city of London, the banks have hoovered up available resources as they can afford to pay the big salaries.”

According to Butler, organizations are trying to tempt talent with big salaries and day rates. The scarcity of resources is especially tight in London where the financial centers work alongside the incubators and entrepreneurs based in Shoreditch and L39 at Canary Wharf.

To gain access to talent, one of the big four accounting firms, Deloitte, recently announced it is setting up labs in Dublin. Does this mean the number of new startups in London will be fewer?

Philip Butler says: “Potentially, yes. There are multiple stages of Blockchain adoption which impacts the skills requirements coupled with demand in start-ups. The big technology vendors and now larger businesses are starting to wake up and are wanting to get involved in Blockchain. Demand is up massively but there is not enough talent to go around. Smarter organizations are looking at training staff in a variety of Blockchain skills and this also has important ramifications for the recruitment market who may need to look at training options for creating the next wave of developers.”

Developers and business architects

Which skills are most sought after?

“The shortage is in people who know Solidity, a relatively new language that along with LLL and Serpent is associated with programming smart contracts.  Java, C++, Go and Python are other skills associated with Blockchain where it is easier to convert or upgrade core developers and put them on the Blockchain path. This is such a competitive area that developers on the West Coast in the US can get paid $250,000 per annum.”

Philip adds:

“The bigger shortage is not actually developers but business architects, people that can understand the complexity of the new technologies – Blockchain, AI, IoT and robotic processing and apply these to solving real business problems and creating new Blockchain operating models.”

“The market is in desperate need of training and education, both for end customers who are struggling to decide the right approach to tackle Blockchain and the technology vendors whose sales teams don’t have the knowledge to sell the new world that is rapidly approaching.”

Philip agrees that every company needs not only a Blockchain strategy but also needs to build internal capabilities and knowledge.

“Companies will need to be fully educated on Blockchain and understand the potential of the technology that can create a massive strategic advantage but can also be destructive if ignored,” he adds.

Asia, Middle East join competition

Could Blockchain become a victim of its own success now that there is significant momentum and the world is starting to embrace the technology as the transition from the Internet of Information to the Internet of Value and where we will soon have more than 100 bln connected devices in an IoT machine to machine economy?

London is not alone in the fight for talent as Asia flexes its Blockchain muscles committing massively to this new technology, the Middle East looks to build a new Blockchain enabled commercial center and the West Coast looking to invest in Blockchain businesses – where will the talent come from?

Universities in the west are slowly starting to offer more Blockchain and cryptography courses as the tech vendors queue up at the door looking to hire every Ph.D. student they can.

Speaking to a wide audience of Blockchain vendors and attendees, London is not alone. Blockchain centers have emerged in Berlin, Zurich and Singapore, and are also experiencing a high demand for smart contract developers, Blockchain business architects and salespeople that know how to sell new commerce.