Redefining Crypto Education: Why Institutions Hold The Key

News, Opinion | March 29, 2019 By:

Some businessmen believe that lessons should be learned the hard way, and that the importance of real-world experience often eclipses that of higher education. While some insights can only be gained over time on the job, the blockchain industry is growing so quickly and expanding so widely that the need for more formal training, education, and certification has become apparent. In fact, a new report from job search site Hired recently found that there has been a 517% increase in demand for software engineers with a background in blockchain or crypto since the beginning of 2018.

The growing demand for blockchain developers stems in part from growing awareness of security challenges for distributed ledgers and cryptocurrencies following a number of high-profile exchange hacks and wallets freezes. Indeed, many of these exploits directly resulted from poorly-written code. Yet the story is larger than security: The ongoing shortage of trained workers continues to hinder blockchain’s mainstream adoption and day-to-day usability. 

To address these concerns, blockchain projects have begun collaborating with universities around the world to provide educational resources for a decentralized future. An August 2018 report found that 21 of the world’s top 50 universities — including Cornell, Stanford, and the National University of Singapore — offered at least one course in blockchain or cryptocurrencies. Coinbase’s analysis also identified a shift in the departments teaching these courses. Observers might expect that blockchain classes rarely appear outside of computer science departments, but of the 172 classes studied, 15 percent were offered by business, economics, finance, and law departments, while another four percent were in social science departments like anthropology, political science, and history.

The expansion beyond traditional engineering mirrors the wide variety of blockchain-related positions. Some blockchain jobs require expertise in consumer technology or data security and privacy, while others relate to supply chain management or financial processing. While the increased focus on blockchain in higher education represents an advance for the industry, it also presents an issue for talented candidates  who may not have time or funds available for postgraduate training.

This is why some blockchain companies have created their own education programs. Instead of struggling to find talent that matches their requirements, projects can train developers with the specific set of skills that they are looking for.

Offering free educational programs may be challenging for early-phase startups, but more established projects have already started to fill the gap for developers interested in leaping to crypto. Truffle, a development environment for Ethereum, has created a training program aimed at helping software developers become professional blockchain engineers. Similarly, Horizen recently announced the Horizen Academy, a comprehensive educational experience focused on decentralized technology and privacy — all free of charge. Making radical usability and widespread adoption of privacy protocols a reality is a priority for Horizen, so we are committed to providing materials that are open and easily accessible to developers at all skill levels.

In an industry that has struggled to move from ideation to real-world use cases, emphasizing education may seem counterintuitive. However, the results of properly educating the next-generation of innovators with industry-specific material will be profound — for the programmers learning new skills, for the projects looking to make waves in the crowded sea of projects, and for the industry at large as it seeks widespread usability and adoption.