The U.S. economy is bustling under the Trump administration, exceeding Wall Street's expectation by adding 201,000 jobs in August and increasing hourly wages by 2.9 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics newest data. That's good news for gig workers, especially the blockchain crowd.
However, there's a massive storm brewing ahead: Automation could displace up to 800 million workers globally by 2030, according to Nov. 2017 study by McKinsey. On the positive side, blockchain tech is providing career opportunities to millennials and Generation Z while cryptocurrencies are creating new wealth for token holders. Both of which can alleviate the pains of automation's massive forecasted effect on global labor.
NEM Exec: Blockchain Opportunities Are Growing Fast
"The rise of Bitcoin grew interest in blockchain over the past two years but cryptocurrencies is only one application of blockchain," says Stephen Chia, NEM's head for Southeast Asia in Sept. 6 interview with Channel W. He says projects like Singapore-based NEM Foundation (CRYPTO: XEM) is developing applications that serve as alternative to centralized database systems used by most governments and companies but are risky as single point of failure.
Chia says decentralization is key to dispersing risk and that's where blockchain talent comes in. So what's the demand for programmers and software engineers, and how much can they earn?
Blockchain engineering is the second-most demanded skill after robotics and automation, according to freelance platform Upwork. In the United States they can earn up to $130,000 annually, according to ComputerWorld, and up to $160,000 in major U.S. cities. But such figures can significantly understate total
compensation when you consider the future values of digital tokens that many fintech ventures are giving to programmers, advisors and employees.
Asia Becoming Hub For Blockchain Tech
Aside from the U.S., blockchain jobs are flourishing in Europe and Asia. The small Mediterranean archipelago of Malta is becoming known as "Blockchain Island" and it's the first country in the world that has in place robust legal framework that governs cryptocurrencies, which gives operators a clearer path.
In the Asia Pacific region, places like Singapore, the Philippines, China, Hong Kong and Malaysia are teeming with blockchain startups and investors. Recruitment firm Robert Walters has seen a 50% increase in blockchain or crypto jobs in Asia since 2017, per CNBC report. But the firm suggests there's a talent gap in the industry: Many applicants don't have relevant skills and experience.
Firms like NEM are conducting extensive training to develop a new crop of leaders in blockchain and cryptocurrency, in part to address the skills gap in a growing industry. "NEM is in Malaysia because it has a very vibrant I.T. community and the [country] offers lower costs," says Stephen Chia in Sept. 6 interview with Channel W. "NEM Foundation has an 11,000 sq. ft. facility in Malaysia that provides incubation space for blockchain startups … [And] an innovation lab is used to train developers and regional partners in NEM blockchain."
Chia says that for blockchain to continue growing, education is crucial. Because decision-makers in governments and companies will first need to understand the technology before they'll adopt it.
Office Or Remote Worker?
As an added benefit, NEM classifies most of its developer jobs as remote and/or virtual. That means talented blockchain gurus can work anywhere in the world, customize their daily schedules and network with like-minded people in other cities. (All six of NEM's current developer jobs are remote.)
It's estimated that as of end of 2017, there were less than 9,000 blockchain programmers globally, creating pressure on companies to increase compensation such as salary, bonus, token allocation and equity stake.
But you don't necessarily need to have programming skills. Top 25 crypto Lisk (CRYPTO: LSK) has a full-time content marketing job in Berlin that pays up to $52,000 USD and the company says on its website that it'll provide relocation service. Lisk is offering developer jobs up to $86,500 in salary, also with relocation help.
Think you might get displaced by automation? It'll be important to be adaptable.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article belong solely to the author. Information contained herein should not be construed as investment advice.