Is Blockchain, Bitcoin Hype Translating into Real Jobs?
To say there’s a lot of hype around Bitcoin and Blockchain is an understatement: within the past two months, the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed to nearly $20,000 per “coin” before spectacularly crashing, and executives everywhere seem to be chattering about what Blockchain can do for them, even if they have no idea how the technology actually works. For those unfamiliar with Blockchain, it’s one of those concepts that’s both simple and devilishly complex. In very basic terms, a blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a chain of “blocks,” or records with a timestamp and a link to the previous block. It’s extremely difficult (if not impossible) for a user to retroactively alter the data within a block without someone noticing; in theory, this makes blockchains secure by design, and ideal for everything from transaction processing to identity confirmation and, yes, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. But are large numbers of employers actively seeking tech pros to work with Blockchain and Bitcoin? According to an analysis of Dice job posting data, the answer is no: as of early February, the term “Blockchain” appears in only 133 positions, and “Bitcoin” in 36. Diving into historical data, we can see that Blockchain-related job postings rose throughout 2016 and 2017, from virtually none to current levels. The number of companies seeking Blockchain skills also ticked upward, to a few dozen. The number of candidates applying for those jobs was healthy, suggesting there are clearly tech professionals who want to work with the technology. Demand for Bitcoin jobs, meanwhile, fluctuated throughout 2016 and 2017, with only a very small handful of companies seeking tech pros skilled in the e-currency. Nor did these jobs attract nearly as many applicants most months as the jobs demanding Blockchain skills. Will Blockchain-related jobs increase over the next few years? That depends on companies deciding the technology will actually benefit their operations. Certainly there are specialized uses for it; utilized for bookkeeping or records-management, for example, it could ensure a high degree of transparency and fraud prevention. In a similar fashion, Blockchain could be used to boost the security and privacy of healthcare records. That evolution will depend on companies making an effort to research what Blockchain can do for them; and that might necessitate tech pros explaining the potential benefits to executives. But if the technology sees more adoption, it could spark the creation of related jobs.