Demand for blockchain experts and engineers has reached an all-time high as businesses seek to capitalise on a slump in bitcoin value. Conservative estimates say that for every blockchain engineer, there are five job openings, Which is obviously brilliant if you are one of those people.
However, should bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies end up falling from grace, the financial ramifications may pale in comparison to the impact experienced by the talent bubble being burst. In the same way that the end of the mining boom left a glut of engineers in Australia, the end of the cryptocurrency boom would do the same but have far-flung effects due to the global nature of the currency.
The skills required to be a blockchain engineer are, to a certain extent, transferable – but the elite skills, those that differentiate a blockchain developer from a traditional coder, are not. The reasons for this are many, but the most important is that the blockchain exists in an environment unique to itself. The security protocols and structures are in no way similar to anything else on earth, which is what makes it so exciting. Someone who is competent and capable as an elite blockchain engineer will be able to code exceptionally well, but their elite skills – those that make them exceptional – will not be something they can bring to another organisation outside of the blockchain.
Of course, there is a powerful and relevant counterargument to this; just because bitcoin falls from grace doesn’t mean that the blockchain will not be an important technology in the future. Its applications are virtually limitless, and there will always be a demand for suitably qualified blockchain engineers.
And that’s true. But the demand will shrink considerably, and there is an extremely high possibility that the statistics will reverse on themselves – that is, one job to every five blockchain engineers. That means an entire generation of specifically trained individuals will need to either retrain or start again in a completely different discipline.
The blockchain is a slow-moving beast and requires unique individuals to service it. But there should some concern as to what will happen to all of those people should a slowdown happen.