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India must skill itself in blockchain as talent gap is huge, say crypto experts

India must skill itself in blockchain as talent gap is huge, say crypto experts

Industry experts at the Business Today Crypto Conclave argue that despite the huge tech talent pool India offers, there is a serious demand-supply gap when it comes to blockchain technologies.

The panelists were unanimous that creating awareness about the field and skilling the workforce, both current and emerging, in this new technology was paramount. (Photo: India Today Group) The panelists were unanimous that creating awareness about the field and skilling the workforce, both current and emerging, in this new technology was paramount. (Photo: India Today Group)

Despite the huge tech talent pool India offers, there is a serious demand-supply gap when it comes to blockchain technologies and the country will have to find a way to address it or be swept away by the new technology, said the panelists at the Business Today Crypto Conclave 2022 in New Delhi on Tuesday. 

“Out of the 2 million-odd IT skilled professionals, only 5,000 of them are blockchain professionals,” said Jagdish Mitra, Chief Growth & Strategy Officer, Tech Mahindra. We have to build our own talent pool with the help of academia because there is no ready pool outside to dip into, he added. 

Highlighting the disconnect further, Rajan pointed out that the global blockchain industry is estimated to touch $3 trillion in five years. “But only one out of 400 software developers have advanced knowledge of blockchain, two out of 400 probably have rudimentary knowledge.” 

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Crypto advisor Ajeet Khurana added that, unlike the IT services revolution in India, crypto offers scope for a lot of non-tech jobs as well. “If you look at the crypto workforce today, 5-30 per cent is in tech (engineering and product) roles. Almost 70-90 per cent are outside. That’s the big difference.” 

The panelists were unanimous that creating awareness about the field and skilling the workforce, both current and emerging, in this new technology was paramount because they expected it to play a big role as the regulations and applications around it became clearer. 

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“Awareness is an issue. Crypto is not blockchain. A lot of clarifications are required within the industry, faculty, students and also on how careers can grow. People are reluctant sometimes to get into this space,” said Rajkumar Nehru, Shri Vishwakarma Skill Development University and Former Director, HR, Schneider Electric India. 

Agreeing that a lack of awareness holds back people from getting into this field, Rajan gave the example of how well a much smaller country like Estonia uses blockchain capacities. “We are sitting on a goldmine and we just have to find a way to leverage it.” 

But skilling cannot be theoretical as the industry requirements will vary depending upon on the sector in which blockchain is being applied in. “That’s where institutions need to come in and understand the needs and bake them into course modules so that students are able to crack those problems,” said Nehru, adding that outside India, most of the innovation happens in campuses.  

But, he said, there is a positive trend of youngsters tying up with small-time enterprises to understand what they can do in this area as well as web and app developers cross-skilling themselves in blockchain technologies. There’s also a great opportunity in it for freelancers and gig workers, he added.  

Rajan also highlighted that the biggest challenge for academia is not teaching blockchain but to meet the industry’s needs. “So, when you look at skilling, you need a combination of four things – technical skills, functional connects, sectoral knowledge and behavioural skills. This is what makes the entire dynamic that much more complex and difficult.”  

Tech Mahindra’s Mitra rounded it off by saying that blockchain is a tsunami bound to happen and that roles have to be played by all and not just the government. “We have to decide whether to be a part of it. It is better to ride it than to get swept away by it.”

Published on: Mar 22, 2022, 7:18 PM IST
Posted by: Aparna Banerjea, Mar 22, 2022, 7:09 PM IST