For every blockchain developer in Australia there are 14 vacant positions, according to a new Australian Computing Society (ACS) and Data61 report into the technology.

The talent gap is emblematic of Australia’s broader digital skills shortage, according to Labor MP Ed Husic, who says opportunities continue to be missed.

Husic, currently the shadow minister for the digital economy, noted Australia’s digital skill shortages during an ACS event in Sydney to launch the blockchain report. 

“We need to have more people with skills that can conceive and drive application.”

“We have a lot of people working at their hardest to make those opportunities a realisation, we need more, not just to bridge the gaps that we have but if we want to be a digital leader in the region, we need more brains in this space that are thinking of ways to apply technology across the space,” he explained.

Blockchain talent gap

Yohan Ramasundara, president at ACS said the skills shortage is particularly evident in emerging technologies like blockchain where there are 14 job vacancies for every blockchain developer in Australia. Despite the shortage, blockchain continues to attract investment, he said.

“And while current activity is largely concentrated in financial and insurance services, there are many potential applications across the gamut of Australia’s industries,” Ramasundara said.

The ACS report, Blockchain 2030: A Look at the Future of Blockchain explores eight scenarios for future adoption of blockchain technology in Australia.

The scenarios are designed to challenge current perspectives, define and explore key uncertainties, and provide a common set of shared narratives for industry, government and community stakeholders. The report also outlines Australia’s competitive advantage, already home to world-first blockchain applications in bonds operations, smart programmable money and international standards, as well as industry-specific trials in energy, agriculture and the public sector.

Ramasundara said, “Trust is the big X factor. Citizen reactions to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the banking enquiry and rising incoming inequality has seen an erosion of trust in centralised institutions.

“Should this trend continue, it may very well be the platform to ignite blockchain adoption and other decentralised technologies.”

Trough of disillusionment

After rapid growth, blockchain has hit the Gartner Hype Cycle “trough of disillusionment” due to its association with illegal activities, scams and privacy issues, as well as its inability to offer significant benefits compared with legacy systems, according to the ACS report.

Dr Alexandra Bratanova, research scientist at CSIRO’s Data61 and lead author of the report explained, “It’s fair to say that the hype around blockchain is fading and we’re likely heading towards what is sometimes called the ‘trough of disillusionment’. It’s been over a decade since blockchain was first introduced and though the hype has faded, distributed ledger technology is far from dead.

“Using the lens of the Gartner Hype Cycle for new technologies, the next phase of development is what is known as the ‘plateau of productivity’, where technologies simply become a part of the fabric of the technology and business landscape.”

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