Cryptocurrency and talent — how are they connected?

December 14, 2018
Darya Karatkevich

After the global financial crisis of 2008/9, the idea of a decentralized currency sprung forth on the backbone of a blockchain-based distributed ledger. People started to learn how Bitcoin works as they were tired of the risks involved in leaving our collective financial future in the hands of a small group of regulators and banks.

talent

Over the last decade, the marketplace has exploded with cryptocurrency-based startups led by ambitious, forward-thinking entrepreneurs around the world hard at work to craft a financial future free from centralized institutions.

As with any new technology, things are moving fast — and one of the challenges for these new companies is the acquisition and fostering of talent. Cryptocurrency jobs are in high demand, especially talented developers. But how do you ‘train’ talent for an industry and for solutions that are still being formed?

That is the challenge of talent in the cryptocurrency industry, and with growth, strategies for building the available talent pool will become critical.

Self-taught phenomenon

self education

Amazingly, the majority of the most talented people in blockchain and cryptocurrency startups are self-taught. They have been with this idea from the beginning, or joined earlier on in the decade.

Bringing either a vast understanding of financial markets or industries or a talent for programming and logic, these pioneers forged the industry to the point we see it today. While it definitely created some overnight millionaires and even billionaires, it also created an industry that is likely to transform financial markets forever.

Personalities like the enigmatic Satoshi and Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin have put these open-source ideas out into the public consciousness where talented individuals who believe in the promise of a decentralized future have run with them.

The pool of these self-motivated and self-taught phenoms is running out, and they cannot sustain the industry on their own. New talent will need to come from outside, and there are several ways that will happen.

Supply and demand

staff demand

The first way the talent pool will increase is simply demand. The natural law of economics will take over, and the allure of working in a high tech and lucrative industry will drive people to learn and become part of the workforce.

But there is an inherent lag in this process as workers are trained and become proficient in the skill sets necessary to succeed in the field.

First and foremost, one needs to understand the ‘idea’ or the promise of a blockchain-based and decentralized financial system. As word spreads of the growth of the industry, and the size of the markets become too big to ignore, more people will buy in at this level.

Companies are actively recruiting to fill cryptocurrency developer jobs, but what they find is a very limited talent pool. That pent-up demand will fuel the next spike in talent for the industry.

The next piece of the puzzle is that there needs to be a place for eager young talent to learn the required theoretical and programming skills to become a valuable workforce.

Universities step up

university classes

As we recently highlighted, institutes of higher learning are reacting to this demand and creating rich blockchain- and cryptocurrency-based curriculum. In fact, over half of the world’s top 50 universities offer at least one class on the subject.

In addition to offering and growing the number of classes, universities are also creating research bodies to study the industry and better guide their future offerings. Many also share their findings publicly, like the Blockchain at Berkeley program.

They are also hiring a portion of the ‘self-taught phenoms’ to come and teach at their schools, meaning students are learning the theory and design from the very folks who created the industry. It’s hard not to be excited about an industry that is so new that it fosters such a dynamic.

Those who are attending these programs are still going to be pioneers in the field, and one of today’s college students might be the one that cracks the code that lets cryptocurrency leap from fledgling idea to mainstream adoption.

Online resources and open source

online study

From a programming language perspective, most cryptocurrency uses existing infrastructure and programming language to underpin its systems. That means that savvy programmers are taking advantage of online tools to learn the skills required for cryptocurrency jobs.

Many of the open-source solutions have detailed instructions and tutorials, and dozens of online videos and websites exist that teach programming concepts. Studious programmers can learn how to adapt their current talent to the budding industry and beat the next wave of college graduates that will eventually get there.

Most of the blockchain platforms like Ethereum, Hyperledger and Corda have online ‘simulators’ or sandboxes where developers can tinker around with code and try to build solutions.

This is where the current pool of talent is coming from, and will be for the not too distant future. One of the biggest philosophies of a decentralized financial system is the open-source nature of its development. The fact that these resources are out there for programmers to take advantage of is a rare occurrence.

Next talent steps

talent development

As the industry matures and continues to grow, companies and entrepreneurs will have to watch out for people who talk the talk but cannot deliver. A challenge for a ‘new’ industry is that it’s much harder to prove experience or to show a track record. Nobody was working in cryptocurrency 20 years ago, all of the talent is new.

What happens next will potentially shape the future of financial markets and currency, globally, so having a rich pool of talent is going to be critical to the success of the industry.

Post written by Darya Karatkevich
Darya is a blockchain market observer with 5+ years of experience as an author and editor for major tech blogging platforms. Her fortes are blockchain technologies and solutions, cryptocurrencies and crypto-related regulations.

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