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What do cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether have in common? Their underlying technologyis blockchain. While it is true that the blockchain technology is at the heart of cryptocurrencies, mostly bitcoin, it is not limited to it. Created by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 to serve asthe public distributed ledger for bitcoin cryptocurrency, the technology has now spread its wings beyond it and and finds its use cases in a host of industries ranging from aviation to travel and mobility to infrastructure and energy to construction, architecture and building to health-care and public records.
According to market research firm Polaris, the global blockchain technology market is expected to reach $1,235.71 billion by 2030, from $5.85 billion in 2021, repre- senting a compound annual growth rate of 82.8 per cent.
“In recent years, blockchain has widened the scope and has moved beyond cryptocurrencies. Considering the advantages the technology offers in the form of transparency, trust, data security and privacy, we believe that multiple sectors and domains will design technol-ogy solutions using blockchain technology,” says Gunjan Tomer, Chairperson, Information systems area, IIM Nagpur.
Concurs Hari Krishnan, Co-founder, Great learning, “The scope of blockchain technology has applications across the board. It enables transparency, security and efficiency in business operations because of which it is being increasingly adopted by various industries.”
Market size to grow
According to market research firm Polaris, the global blockchain technology market isexpected to reach $1,235.71 billion by 2030, from $5.85 billion in 2021, representing a compound annual growth rate of 82.8 per cent. While north America is expected to dominate the global market throughout the projected period due to the presence of numerous huge players such as Microsoft Corporation, IBM, AWS, and others, the Asia Pacific region is anticipated to grow at the fastest pace due to the increasing adoption of these technologies in emerging nations, including India and China. The popularity of the emerging tech can be gauged from the fact that in 2021, funding to blockchain startups surged 713 percent YoY to reach $25.2 billion. Further, the technology is listed by the World Economic Forum as one of seven technologies that are anticipated to revolutionise various aspects of our lives.
For the uninitiated, the blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions safely, permanently, and very efficiently. It allows encrypted data on anything from money and medical records to be shared by companies, people, and institutions. The informationis stored in groups called ‘blocks', and is shared across the entire network of com-puters on the blockchain.
“The technology is mainly useful in financial as well as other services to reduce friction. If you consider traditional digital payments, there are multiple intermediaries that a single payment has to go through, and each intermediary collects economic rents in terms of fees. This makes digital payments rather expensive. Further, there is no transparency among these intermediaries — leading to a lot of book keeping and clearance and settlement processes. Blockchain can short circuit these in order to make digital payments cheaper, transparent and more trackable, according to Dr. Sandeep Shukla, professor, Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Kanpur.
It is predicted that a whopping 56 per cent of Indian enterprises are utilising blockchain technology in some capacity. And the rising use cases of blockchain technology in various industries means that in the upcoming months and years, those businesses will require a vast army of specialists. The five in-demand blockchain jobs on various job portals include Blockchain Developer, Blockchain Engineer,Blockchain Quality Engineer, BlockchainDesigner and Blockchain Legal Consultant/Attorney etc. A report by industry body Nasscom and Indian cryptocurrency exchange WazirX, in 2021, estimated that by 2030, India could have over 8lakh jobs created in blockchain and other web3-related fields.
To make a mark in the most emerging tech space, the first thing one needs to do is acquire the right skills. Surprisingly, of the two million software developers in India, barely 5000 software developers in India have blockchain skills.
Certification from premier institutes
Recognising the demand-supply gap, academic institutions including leading B-schools and IITs have come up with courses in blockchain technology. Take for instance, IIM Ahmedabad thatruns electives on bitcoin and blockchain technology in its MBA program. IIM Nagpur, on the other hand, has launched a nine-month online Post Graduate Certificate Programme in blockchain technology in collaboration with Times Pro. The course is mainly for working professionals. Commenting about the course, Tomer, says, “Two things inspired us to design this programme-one blockchain technology is emerging as a significant driver to digital transformation across industries with its unique value propositions. We have seen a surge in the skill demand. Second, we found a gap in the academic offerings which combine block-chain technology from both technological and managerial perspectives.”
Tomer says that their programme aims to combine both technological and managerial perspectives. “It will equip the participants with the ability to both design and develop technology solutions based on blockchain technology and develop creative solutions to contemporary business problems. Unlike an elective, the programme is a morerigorous and holistic experience for the participants to understand and apply blockchain technology across different contexts and domains.” Says Dr. Shukla, “Our goal in creating a blockchain course was to upskill software professionals who want to get into blockchain technology and understand it beyond the hype of cryptocurrency speculation, gambles,and various misuses of the technology.”
“In 2020, we at Great Learning in partnership with IIT Madras, started the ‘Advanced Certification in Software engineering for Cloud, Blockchain and IoT' program. We have witnessed a 2.4x growth in the demand for the program in FY 22 from FY 21,” says Krishnan.
Courses by private universities Besides the IITs and IIMs, courses are offered at an undergraduate level too by some private universities. Sharda University, Bennett University in Greater Noida, Alliance University, Amity University are among them. The UPES offers a full-time four-year undergraduate programme in blockchain technology, in collaboration with IBM. IIIT, Bangalore in association with online platform upGrad offers PG programme in software development with specialisation in blockchain.
Recently, the MIT-World Peace University inaugurated a Centre of Excellence focused on Blockchain technology within the University's School of Computer Engineering and Technology.
At least 50 percent aggregate in Diploma (10+2+3) or Bachelor's Degree or equivalent, or they should hold a two-year Master's Degree or equivalent from a recognised university in any discipline. Working professionals are selected on the basis of experience (minimum two years) and familiarity with one of the programming languages (C++, Java, Python, etc).
“While 68 per cent of our learners are from the IT Industry, learners also enroll in the program from sectors such as BFSI, Manufacturing, Telecom, Automobile and even Consulting. Most of the learners work in technical/functional roles in major companies.,” says Krishnan.
What does the course entails Besides covering concepts of Bitcoin, Hyperledger, Ethereum, Ripple and multichain blockchain platforms, courses also help students set up a private blockchain network using Hyperledger Composer, and deploying smart contracts on Ethereum. The curriculum ends withcapstone projects. A participant driven capstone project is a significant evaluation parameter where participants will be designing and creating a blockchain based technology solution,” adds Tomar.
The fee for blockchain courses varies across institutes. The fee for IIM Nagpur's nine-month online course is INR 2.25 lakhs, while one can enroll for four month's IIT Kanpur's Professional Certificate Program in Blockchain in association with online learning platform Simplilearn for INR 1.69 lakhs.
Salary and placements
With a skill so much in demand, what pay package can be expected after completion of the course? “The existing talent crunch has led to a huge demand-supply gap of professionals with blockchain development skills as well as functional expertise. This has also led to high salary premiums as a lot of employers compete for a small talent pool. While the salaries of blockchain developers vary depending on the company, location, and years of experience, in India, they obtain 50-100 percent higher than other developer roles. According to Ambitionbox, depending on experience levels and skills the blockchain developer salary in India ranges between INR 2.4 lakhs and INR 23.2 lakhs with an average annual salary of INR 6.6 lakhs,” says Krishnan.