Brave new blockchain

K-DISC, with its well-defined protocol to tap young entrepreneurial energy, is set to redefine business.

Thiruvananthapuram: The key driver of Kerala State Development and Innovation Strategic Council’s (K-DISC) ambitious programme for the State’s “brave new” growth trajectory will be Blockchain technology that is set to overturn the way the world does its business. K-DISC, being inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on March 24, subscribes to the view that with the advent of the fourth Industrial Revolution, the world zips through a disruption, led by technology. “Connected devices, machine intelligence, data analytics, and distributed ledgering are triggering enormous changes that will fundamentally affect the way economies, industries and services work in the future”, says K-DISC’s strategy paper.

KPMG predicts that 64 per cent to 78 per cent of repeatable and procedural work will get automated with the help of new technology and that the demand for human resource skills will emanate from these future technology areas. The council plans to initiate the creation of a large pool of BC developers through equipping qualified youth in the state with next generation skill-sets that will make them highly employable in the coming years, not only in Kerala but across the country and the world. The strategy attempts to leverage on the work done by Kerala Blockchain Academy (KBA), a collaborative setup of IITMK, to train students on the technology, with the support from the Blockchain Education Network (BEN) and other mentor institution of KBA.

This training, designed by KBA, will then be channelled through the Higher Education Department into engineering colleges and polytechnics in the State. These institutions will participate at two levels: facilitate in building the stock of trainers and instructors and incentivise students in substantial degree, from the institutions to participate in the training. The competency development programme will be open for science students, graduate youth and corporate/government employees. Strengths of institutions such as Additional Skills Acquisition Programme (ASAP) and Kerala Academy of Skills Excellence (KASE) will be marshalled to organize the programme.

An interested student can either go through an institution driven process or can prepare independently to appear for the entry assessment. Corporate Employees are also allowed to join the programme but will not qualify for the scholarship. A third-party institution would conduct the entry assessment and qualify students for the BC Developer training. It is proposed that the Entrance Commissioner of Kerala / similar organizations may conduct the entry assessments.

On completion of the entrance process, students will be categorized into three groups:
a) Students who qualify above 70 percent score will go through a State government-sponsored training programme.
b) Students who score between 50 – 69 per cent will achieve minimum qualification, but are not eligible for scholarship. These students can still go through Government-recommended training programme or can choose to go through any other training programme. In either case, students will have to pay and get trained.
c) Students who score below 50 per cent are not eligible to proceed. They could make a fresh attempt to qualify the minimum criteria or may choose to drop out from the programme.
Students who have gone through the process (a) or (b) above will converge to take up the final assessment organized by BEN (facilitated by KBA) to obtain the Blockchain developer competency.
It is recommended that the BEN certification assessment be conducted thrice a year, so that students going through the training would get multiple opportunities to clear the final assessments.
Till such time as the arrangements with BEN is finalised and the exit certification arrangements are spelt out, KBA will issue the certificates. In addition, the possibility of associate certifications from Hyperledger/Ethereum can also be explored.
In addition to certification, Blockchain trained participants will be pooled for talent hunt programme such as BC Hackathon series and top performers would be provided with direct placements and incubation opportunities.

Why Kerala should build skills on Blockchain: Kerala has been a leader state in various areas such as IT where the State initiated the first technology park in the country. Kerala Government has also declared the first Start-Up policy in the country and enabled the state to move fast on student start-ups. As part of its continued quest for excellence in the next wave of ICT, the state has decided to pursue its efforts on six verticals and build a Centre of Excellence (COE) model around each of them; one of the technology verticals being Blockchain. The state plans to bring together high-end research/academic institution, start-up ecosystem and leading industry providers to collaborate and create value for each other. The new Knowledge city will house the COEs and physical infrastructure for organizations and support facility (such as simulation or test labs).

The State boasts over 160 engineering institutions, of which academic facilities in nearly half of them can be rated as excellent. It has more than 50 polytechnics. Connecting this segment of the technical higher education framework of the State and the Blockchain skilling initiative will pay rich dividends in the future.
Unlike in other countries, there are high levels of gender parity in these institutions, and the programme may actually generate demand among young women students and graduates. The promotion program will particularly target women to attract them to this field.

ASAP run by the Higher Education Department has already imparted skills to over 125,000 students in diverse areas. It has a network of over a hundred skill development centres and nearly 300 well-trained and professional programme managers. The services of programme managers of ASAP can be used to set up the required number of training centers in colleges and polytechnics. Blockchain opportunity landscape: Even though 2017 and early half of 2018 is focused towards creating a number of proof of concepts on the technology, it is anticipated to be one of the exponential technologies that have a potential to rapidly evolve and grow.

A recent study by Trace expects Blockchain market size to grow 300 percent (from around $5 B to around $ 16 B) in the next 5 years. North America is likely to lead the sector, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific. India’s IT sector with huge exports to North American market has a natural advantage to lead the innovation, intellectual capital and talent capital. The domestic market including government sector is likely to adopt BC technology, and that would lead to additional market opportunity for the ICT industry.

Blockchain global market potential: Even though the Blockchain technology has its early adoption in the financial services sector (Bitcoin and other crypto currencies) the concept of distributed ledger has immense potential in a variety of applications. Industries such as retail, healthcare, oil & gas, telecom and public sector departments have a number of use cases where the technology can be utilized for improving both efficiency and transparency.

Blockchain and Future Job Skills: Burning Glass Inc survey says the number of job postings allied to Blockchain technology has increased 115 percent between 2016 and 2017. They have predicted a similar increase in the coming years, as the technology is being extensively proof-tested retail, healthcare and public service systems. According to the industry analysis, the median entry-level salary range for a Blockchain developer is 24 percent higher than that of a normal software developer, a trend which is predicted to continue through the near future. Organisations such as IBM, Accenture, Deloitte and JP Morgan chase have taken a lead in creating internal competency pool on the technology. More organizations across the world have started internal re-training programme to take advantage on the new technology opportunity. Leading training providers such as Coursera has introduced Blockchain developer training programme into their curriculum.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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