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UK jobs requiring blockchain expertise are being filled twice as quickly as the average for all jobs – and demand is rising.
With blockchain technology increasingly finding its place in multiple sectors, businesses could be fighting over a scare resource.
The number of advertised UK jobs requiring blockchain expertise has risen by an average of 25% a month in 2017 compared with last year. This compares with an average 2% monthly increase in the total number of UK jobs advertised.
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The figures, from job search engine Joblift, showed that 546 jobs for blockchain professionals have been advertised in the UK since August 2016.
Joblift found these posts are being taken up quickly, with an average of seven days taken for positions to be filled once online. Across the whole market, jobs take an average of 15 days to fill, according to Joblift.
In the UK, London dominates with 79% of job openings and 429 blockchain jobs taken up in the past 12 months. Edinburgh is the next most popular destination for such jobs, but it is way behind London with 11 jobs filled over the same period. Then comes Belfast, where nine blockchain jobs were taken.
The UK is also way ahead of its European competitors at the moment. Joblift found there were 192 blockchain jobs advertised in Germany in the past 12 months, compared with the UK’s 546. But the average monthly increase in Germany was 47%, while in the UK it was 25%.
In the light of strong demand for blockchain skills, UK universities are offering specialist courses in financial services technology, where blockchain has its roots and largest user base. According to research from recruitment firm Robert Half Financial Services, 96% of business leaders in the finance sector have invested in blockchain, plan to invest in it, or realise that they should.
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In January this year, the University of Strathclyde became the first to offer a masters degree in financial technology (fintech). Its 12-month MSc in financial technology course will start in September 2017.
It will combine an academic curriculum with the entrepreneurship and innovation skills needed in the fintech sector, such as data analytics and regulation, as well as understanding technologies such as blockchain.
A month later, Wrexham Glyndwr University launched a BSc (hons) financial technology management course, which is is full-time over three years.
The UK will have to continue to invest in blockchain education and training if it is to retain its lead in Europe after Brexit. The country is already being viewed as less attractive to talented IT professionals from EU countries, so will have to nurture homegrown talent or lose out to fintech hubs in Germany, France and Sweden, for example.
According to a report from Deloitte, 47% of highly skilled workers from the EU who are currently working in the UK are considering leaving in the next five years – and 15% are planning to leave in the next 12 months.
And it is not just skills that could be in short supply if the drop in UK fintech investment since the Brexit vote becomes a trend. Research commissioned by fintech trade body Innovate Finance showed that $783m was invested in UK fintech in 2016, compared with $1.2bn in 2015. This was a 33.7% drop in the UK, compared with an 11% increase in fintech investment globally.