Blockchain, the technology behind digital currencies like bitcoin, is growing in popularity — which means engineers in this area are hard to find, prompting universities to start offering courses in the nascent technology.
According to a report in the Financial Times, demand for expert engineers in blockchain are coming from all sorts of industries, be it financial companies or retail ones. The demand for workers is also far outstripping supply. “It is a hot market at the moment because most of the large corporates want to be able to say they have a blockchain team,” says Michael Mainelli, who runs blockchain training courses for senior executives and boards at his consultancy Z/Yen, in the report. Because of the demand, engineers with blockchain experience can get salaries north of $250,000.
As of a result of the lack of engineers in this space, the University of Edinburgh is gearing up to become the first big university in Europe to roll out blockchain courses to its students. “Blockchain technology is a recent development and there is always a bit of a lag as academia catches up,” said Aggelos Kiayias, chair in cyber security and privacy and director of the blockchain technology laboratory at the university in an interview with the Financial Times. He said in addition to learning the necessary skills to build blockchain otherwise known as distributed ledger there are other benefits from the course such as studying cybersecurity. While European colleges and universities are just getting into the blockchain game, universities in the U.S. have already offered courses in the technology. Stanford University, for one example, rolled out bitcoin and cryptocurrencies courses roughly two years ago. Meanwhile, the University of California Berkeley also offers a blockchain course — and ditto for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Massive open online courses, often free, have a slew of courses and tutorials on blockchain. The report noted that Coursera, an education-focused tech company, hooked up with Princeton University to offer an 11-week cryptocurrency technologies course.