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  NEWS

The Blockchain ball is in developers hands

Demand seems to be trending in the ICT skills sphere and, for a change, we are not talking about the skills shortage: the demands are coming from the candidates. If you are a skilled IT professional then it would appear that your wish is their command, provided they want you enough.

Another ‘want’ trending at the moment is more education around blockchain, its uses and of course learning the skills of a blockchain developer. Confidence is growing around the technology with many startups banking on it, but are we ready to introduce it to more established organisations?

“It’s relatively new and it’s constantly evolving. Where it might evolve to in a few years’ time might be different to where it is right now, but it’s accepted that there are potentially huge transformational benefits around blockchain technologies and distributed technologies,” said Linda Keane, strategy and operations manager, Irish Computer Society.

“Everybody knows it’s being used in finance right now but there are other sectors looking very keenly on it, insurance, real estate, legal, every step of the supply chain, cloud storage, art and even antiquities. Anywhere you have a digital asset and privacy trust and security is an issue potentially blockchain can be applied to that.

“Everything is about data now, more and more of our so-called assets are becoming digitised and we do need a way of keeping them safe and working with them in a safe and secure way in the future. This has the potential to address a lot of those issues, particularly where we are now with economic uncertainty and global trade positioning and repositioning, not least of all what is going on with Brexit, it’s impossible to predict the future but I think that that kind of focusing on the supply chain optimisation and the safety and security of our data is going to be key.”

With the current demand for ICT skillset workers, the more blockchain develops into other sectors, the greater the demand for more knowledge around the technology at a basic level but also at a skilled level. The ICS members’ demands are being met with the introduction of courses in blockchain technology being rolled out in the spring.

“It is an education pathway and that is consistent with a lot of the courses we develop, we don’t do just a single course and throw them out there. We try and offer our members an opportunity to bring them along. It’s an introductory workshop, a two-day course for anybody who has an interest or curiosity about blockchain. It’d be people who work in IT but not necessarily just developers, it could be project managers, it could be IT leaders looking at it from a strategic perspective and it could be people in operations. They’ll learn about blockchain, what it is, how it’s used.

“They’ll get an overview of the technical workings of blockchain and its applications in cryptocurrencies and also in digital finance, but beyond that, and I think this is probably the real benefit of this, they will find out about how blockchain might be applicable to their organisations. We’ll look at the sectors where blockchain is prevalent right now and the new and emerging areas where it’s beginning to grow, letting them go at the end of the two days with an idea and opinion as to whether blockchain might be suitable for their organisations.”

Delivered in a workshop format, the attendees will be able to converse with the tutor and find out if there is relevance of the technology to their own organisation and how best to apply their learnings before making an informed decision on whether continuous study in the blockchain is beneficial to them.

“It’s a very open course to the broad IT profession and then the next step is a four-day course called Developing the blockchain, at that stage that course is for developers, they don’t necessarily have to have blockchain development experience, that’s why they are going on the course. But it would be for experienced developers because this is more of a practical course where they actually get their hands on the blockchain, if you like. They get to programme, they get to code on the blockchain and do small projects within those four days that enable them to get started. The details are on our website right now.”

Another demand within the ICT Skills sector is the demands coming from employees. Due to the skills shortage, the ball is very much in the candidate’s court if they have the right skills, they certainly have the first serve when it comes to negotiating terms of employment.

Source: This article first appeared in the Sunday Business Post, 2/12/2018 by Fiona Alston

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