A Class Act: Leveraging Industry Insights For More Agile Blockchain Education

Industry-informed blockchain education offerings are central to the sustained success of the global DLT ecosystem, writes Gibraltar’s Minister for Digital and Financial Services, Hon. Albert Isola M.P.

For blockchain advocates the world over, encouraging educational pursuits around Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) should be a top priority for 2020. The intrinsic link between accessible, dynamic education offerings and a thriving technology sector is undisputed, ensuring a balance between supply and demand for skilled professionals, while helping students sharpen their computational thinking and hone problem solving and teamwork skills. The rapid evolution of DLT in our shared society calls for a strategic approach to delivering quality course content to students worldwide. However, institutions don’t have to go it alone; they should embrace the wealth of knowledge and expertise held by industry leaders to build agile curricula.

While global regulatory movements haven’t been as decisive and brisk as some would like, this should not impede the progress of educational institutions in curating bespoke programs that can equip students with the necessary skills to thrive in the years ahead. In an ideal world, the legwork behind establishing clear regulations takes place alongside educational strides.

More broadly, it could be argued that international regulatory advances haven’t kept up with the technological advances made by DLT projects, but this time-lag cannot, and must not, extend to the education sphere.

It is widely understood that regulatory frameworks take time to be implemented, but in the interim, the pursuit of DLT education initiatives should be championed to ensure aspiring blockchain projects have a sizable and energized talent pool to draw upon. 

Commercially, it also makes sense for education institutions to put their weight behind DLT in 2020, as highlighted by LinkedIn’s recent report which positioned blockchain atop the list of the most in-demand hard skills. This trend has endured over the last number of years, with a litany of reports giving expression to the value of blockchain skills in the workplace and the lucrative opportunities awaiting those who set out on a DLT career trajectory.

Thankfully, we’re far from starting at ground zero, with solid foundations already being laid across the global network of universities and education providers. The subject matter has gone from niche to orthodox, with DLT course content populating the prospectuses of many colleges around the world, from Stanford to the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Gibraltar. A Coinbase report from August 2019 highlighted an increase in blockchain-related courses among the top 50 universities; up from 42% in 2018 to 56% in 2019.

Many of the leading courses employ a particular strategy when formulating blockchain curricula —  harnessing the expertise of industry professionals to inform the direction of course content. This ensures that the latest use-cases and techniques are explored rigorously. If a university is going to pour significant resources into establishing a DLT strand within their prospectus, it is worth leveraging the insights of blockchain professionals who can articulate the granular DLT details in a digestible manner.

The chance for universities to cultivate partnerships with other institutions, and indeed blockchain platforms, is also there for the taking. These mutually-beneficial partnerships can breathe life into projects, and give course directors unrivaled insights to help create evolving program material. Such collaboration, for example, has enabled the University of Gibraltar to strike a partnership with Huobi Academy, and help launch the New Technologies in Education (NTiE) group. 

On the international stage, the vibrancy within the Blockchain Education Alliance is encouraging. The Alliance represents a consortium of blockchain industry entities that seek to support education, research, and entrepreneurship globally. With the likes of MasterCard and Binance X joining the alliance in recent weeks, the depth of their roster continues to deepen, signalling the growing intent of industry leaders to play a role in directing the future of blockchain education. 

With a buoyant jobs market, increased participation from global entities, and high demand for blockchain skills in the workplace, the conditions are in our favor for further expansion of the blockchain education landscape in 2020. There is a willingness within industry to contribute to this effort, embracing the collaborative spirit of decentralization to create education offerings that are fit for purpose, fit for the future.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.