Engineers in Short Supply for Japan’s Red Hot Crypto Market


As the cryptocurrency industry continues to grow and expand at a rapid rate, an issue has become clear across the board: there is a severe shortage of skilled engineers to keep up with the pace.

According to The Asahi Shimbun, this is one of the reasons given by Coincheck for their devastating hack in January. The exchange’s CEO, Koichiro Wada, explained:

We were aware we didn’t have enough people working on internal checks, management and system risk. We strived to expand using headhunters and agencies, but ended up in this situation.

An Industry-Wide Problem

Other companies in Japan are also having a tough time finding skilled and knowledgeable cybersecurity and blockchain experts. This is a real concern for the industry at a time when regulators are pushing for more stringent security measures.

Alexander Jenner of Computer Futures in Tokyo explained:

It could put the brakes on everything. The sector’s growing so quickly, and the better exchanges are surviving. But many of them will fail.

Mike Kayamori, CEO of Quoine exchange, added:

The FSA is breathing down necks on security, compliance and risk. And if you don’t hire, you won’t be able to survive.

More Interested Sectors but Less Available Skills

More Interested Sectors but Less Available Skills

In addition, because of the versatility of blockchain technology, other businesses in Hong Kong, such as banks and insurance companies, are looking at hiring experts to integrate this type technology into their business.

Also, the available experienced engineers out there may not feel the need to move from their current place of work, an issue especially prevalent in Japan. Jonathan Underwood, who is the head dean of Blockchain Daigakko, an engineering training firm, had this to say:

The majority of Japanese that do understand blockchain and cryptocurrency already work for companies as lifetime employment, and have never considered the thought of changing jobs.

Silver Linings

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Countries with capable research sectors offer a steady stream of experts who are knowledgeable in, for example, cryptography, which is key in blockchain technology. Nick Gregory, who is the CEO of blockchain firm, Commerceblock, explained:

The UK has quite a good environment for research, so we were able to pull people from universities.

The upside of this is that the available engineers out there can demand much higher salaries, almost 20% and 30% more than last year. The salaries further increase with the amount of experience these engineers have.

Ryo Fukuda, a self-taught coder, has first-hand experience of this:

I’d been doing nothing but crypto and my own projects, so I had the experience other engineers and companies couldn’t get. Now the market has really taken off and there’s a shortage of engineers. That was when my value to the market soared.

Dire Prediction

The reality seems to be that the overwhelming demand for all things crypto- and blockchain related far exceeds the skilled labor supply. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry stated that last year saw a deficit of over 15,000 employees in the big data and artificial intelligence sectors, industries that depend on engineers. More worryingly though is that the ministry predicts that this number will increase to 50,000 by 2020.

How do you think the crypto industry can help in solving the skills-shortage problem? Let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of iStockPhoto

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Written by Nikita Blows @ April 7, 2018 Nikita Blows

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