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Edtech platforms, colleges, premier institutes ramp up blockchain courses

Edtech platforms, colleges, premier institutes ramp up blockchain courses
Photo Credit: 123RF.com
21 Feb, 2022
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Delhi-based software professional Sagar Kohli has been working in the field for six years. Last year, his employer assigned him to a team working to build blockchain-based digital supply chain management systems. Kohli, who is well versed in other aspects of coding and building platforms, had to undergo an additional training for this, but says he learned an invaluable skill.

Since then, he has landed a job at a big-tech firm, and says that such skills are essential, going forward, for all developers. He noted that the market today is flush with opportunities for coders like him, with both Big Tech and smaller firms looking for blockchain developers to cater to an increasing array of web3-related projects.

Job postings related to blockchain and cryptocurrency developments in India saw an annual rise of 37%, and grew 138% in three years since August 2018, according to an August 2021 report by job searching platform Indeed. The demand for these jobs among Indian developers spiked 76% annually, the report added.

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Being a programmer, though, Raja had the skill and experience to upgrade himself. But not everyone is like Raja, which is why edtech platforms, colleges and even premier institutes in India are launching blockchain-related courses.

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, for instance, is set to launch a Blockchain Innovation Centre on its premises. “Faculty members from different departments such as mechanical engineering, applied mechanics and computer science engineering are coming together to create an interdisciplinary centre,” said Prabhu Rajagopal, professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Madras. The programme will be supported by an Indian crypto exchange, who will help host blockchain summits, fellowships in blockchain development, funding research and more.

The Centre, Rajagopal said, will not just work on research but explore developing products for the industry. “We will look at these products in terms of particular relevance to the Indian market, where IT hardware has not penetrated a lot, and while network coverage is increasing, the bandwidth remains limited. We’ll look to work on these by leveraging blockchain technologies,” he added.

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He added that the Centre will work on a ‘hub and spoke’ model of operation. In this, interested companies and corporations could fund a hub, in which professors would lead research initiatives. Students working on these research areas would subsequently work on building products and solutions that are suited to the core needs of the company that sponsors the hub.

Such centres are tipped to boost jobs in India as well. In September 2021, a report by industry body Nasscom and Indian cryptocurrency exchange WazirX stated that by 2030, India could have over eight lakh jobs created in blockchain and other web3-related fields. In January 2022, a market report by Linkedin also stated that in the US, job opportunities in the blockchain and cryptocurrency fields rose by 395% year-on-year in 2021, outpacing the growth of job opportunities in the overall technology sector.

According to edtech platforms, the early signs of this rise in demand for blockchain-related jobs in India can already be seen. According to Byju’s-owned Great Learning, the startup has been witnessing an average growth pace of 129% every six months since it launched courses around blockchain in July 2020.

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Arjun Mohan, chief executive of online education platform Upgrad, said the company has seen a 50% rise in demand for its blockchain-related courses in the last one year, and a corresponding rise in revenue earned from these courses. Upgrad launched its first blockchain courses in 2018. “We’re seeing the higher-priced courses seeing more takers among the new enrolments, and nearly 100% increase in revenues from these courses over the past year,” he noted.

According to Mohan, the rise in demand for these courses is typically always linked to increasing job opportunities, and the early takers are mostly developers working in conventional or legacy technology fields looking to upskill themselves. However, he also added that blockchain courses still account for less than 10% of Upgrad’s overall revenue, suggesting that opportunities in the blockchain development space are not entirely widespread as of now.

IIT Madras, on its part, is looking to set up an alumni-driven deeptech funding initiative to back student projects in blockchain development and quantum computing, among others. Such funding efforts, according to Rajagopal, could drive greater application of blockchain technologies in the Indian context, thereby boosting jobs. In turn, this would further increase interest among students as well as professionals, leading to the blossoming of a burgeoning industry.

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