Japan Needs More Qualified Coders
When Coincheck was hacked in January losing $530 million worth of NEM tokens the company offered the excuse that it did not have the staff to maintain the security protocols it had established. Critics said the company cut corners and had diverted too much of their overall budget to advertising.
As it turns out though Japan is suffering from a shortage of coders and engineers with the experience and ability that it’s ever-growing cryptocurrency market demands.
There are 32 cryptocurrency exchanges already in operation and at least 100 more waiting on registration from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA). Pair this with increased security regulations handed down to exchanges since the Coincheck hack and the result is a hiring scramble to find the right people with blockchain and cybersecurity abilities.
According to the Ministry of Economy, in 2016 there was a shortfall of 15,000 workers in the big data and AI fields. This is expected to increase to 50,000 in 2020 based on trends in the industry against the number of new candidates coming into the market.
Labor Shortage has Driven up Demand and Salaries
This shortage has led to very competitive hiring practices and an overall increase in starting salaries in the industry. Pascal Hideki Hamonic, company director of Descartes Search, headhunters who specialize in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry was quoted by Reuters as saying “the supply of labor can’t keep up with demand.”
Salaries have risen 20-3o percent from the previous year with the base salary of a new coder now topping $100,000. Mark Pink another recruiter for the industry said
“Exchanges are looking for people who can do the creative, thinking work – to create the architecture, not just do basic tasks,”
This shortage of skilled coders isn’t only being felt in Japan. As more and more companies look toward implementing blockchain technology and the cryptocurrency industry continues to expand other countries are facing the same problems.
Hong Kong, for example, is looking at a large potential growth of the technology in their banking and insurance industries but have a finite number of eligible people to allow that growth to happen.
Other countries like the UK and the US that have good environments for research through their university systems have pools of engineers well versed in the developing technologies and see no immediate shortage.
In Japan, though the problem is exacerbated by the rigid labor culture that binds employees to their companies for life. “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,” said Jonathan Underwood Dean of Blockchain Daigakko.
Recruiters interviewed in the Reuters article agree that until those attitudes change the labor crunch will continue.