You already know: We’re short on blockchain developers.
Before taking the helm as Kingsland University’s CEO in 2008, John Souza enjoyed an illustrious city career spanning eleven years working for firms including Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Skandia, and Bank of America. Souza says his background in finance helped him to identify hurdles that would barricade social media from widespread adoption.
“The seeds were planted back when social media was emerging and I noticed companies failing to use it properly as a means of engagement and growth,” he says.
Souza founded Social Media Marketing University in 2008 as a way of filling the content strategy gaps that business and individuals were grappling with. Following the phenomenal success of this venture, Souza realized that blockchain technology, then in its infancy, would face similar barriers were its adoption to become widespread.
“People were pitching concepts for businesses, charities, and services that would rely on blockchain to deliver their products and promises,” he says. “But any developer worth their salt that could build the project was booked years out,” Souza explained.
To address this shortage of skilled blockchain developers, Souza partnered with Jason King to begin developing the world’s first accredited blockchain curriculum in 2016. The pair co-founded the Kingsland University’s School of Blockchain in January 2017.
But the efficacious widespread adoption of blockchain technology has taken even visionaries such as Souza by surprise.
“Had you told me that one day I would be running an educational institution with the potential to change lives in a way that transcends socioeconomic status, global region, and personal identity, I’d have said you were crazy,” says Souza.
Blockchain has ‘huge potential’ to improve humanity, says Souza
Since its inception in 2017, Kingsland’s School of Blockchain has grown rapidly to offer courses in countries across the globe from New York, Los Angeles, Australia, Singapore, Seoul, Mexico, Budapest, Mauritius and the Philippines.
This constantly expanding global reach has been fuelled by blockchain technology’s ability to create customer trust, reduce counterfeit goods, reduce transaction costs, and reach emerging markets, says Souza.
According to Souza, blockchain projects have huge potential to improve humanity. “Organizations like Unsung.org are solving world hunger and organizations specifically dedicated to ending human trafficking or authenticating product quality or reducing frequent transaction costs all exist on the blockchain,” he says.
Souza notes that while “the practical and administrative workings of these projects differ enormously, their underpinnings are consistent: Improve humanity via blockchain.”
“The tremendous gains locked in blockchain applications are already being tapped,” he says.
Kingsland dedicated to bringing more women into technology
Kingsland is currently offering $10 million in scholarship funds via the Kingsland Foundation to new students in 2018. The foundation’s focus is on reaching students in countries where such training is not available or unaffordable. “We’re proud to be partnered with shEOS to award scholarships that bring women and girls into tech,” says Souza.
“Kingsland is meant to be an avenue of world-changing opportunity for marginalized populations and the OECD shows us that improving women’s education has the largest impact on economic growth in developing countries. Blockchain is poised to level myriad playing fields, including this one,” he says.
Kingsland emphasizes training while helping to raise awareness
Kingsland University’s primary goal is to address the shortfall in the number of blockchain developers. “There is a huge discrepancy between the number of skilled blockchain developers needed to realize their projects and the number of actual blockchain developers in existence,” says Souza.
“The pool of unoccupied blockchain developers is even smaller still, as the minuscule number of existing blockchain engineers are over-extended to more projects than they could possibly complete in a timely, complete fashion,” he says.
Besides training and certifying high caliber blockchain developers, Kingsland University is also helping to create awareness among industries and governments about blockchain’s potential. This is “something we are addressing at the policy level by working with global government and blockchain education steering committees,” says Souza.
Training sufficient numbers of developers is only half the challenge. Kingsland’s executive education program is aimed squarely at the C-suite level. “That course aims to bridge the gap between awareness, understanding, and adoption within Governments, Organizations, Fortune 500 companies, startups and small businesses who can benefit from the implementation of blockchain,” Souza noted.
Blockchain Immersion course is ‘enormous area of interest’
Kingsland’s Blockchain Immersion course, a technical training program which upskills full-stack developers into Blockchain engineers, has seen enormous interest throughout 2018. According to Souza, “there were only about 1,600 highly skilled blockchain developers on the entire planet at the start of this year.” To date, over 9,000 developers have made requests for this course, making it an “enormous area of interest,” according to Souza.
”Rapid advancement and sustained excitement surrounding blockchain have made filling the gap an uphill battle for a company like us. We can’t train and deploy Kingsland-certified developers into the blockchain ecosystem fast enough, but we’ve made it our mission to try,” he says.
Kingsland is aiming to address industry needs as it expands into more regions, engages in more government partnerships, and hosts courses with greater frequency worldwide. “We’re confident we’ll be able to address those industry needs,” says Souza.
Industry-pioneering curriculum advisors and trainers
When Souza and King began developing the world’s first accredited blockchain curriculum in 2016, they drew on a number of industry leaders and pioneers to help create the course syllabi. “We pride ourselves on our industry-pioneering curriculum advisors, some of which actually helped invent the most integral blockchain protocols,” says Souza.
As blockchain technology continues to evolve at breakneck speed, Kingsland’s team of world-class trainers reads like a who’s who of blockchain and crypto excellence. The university’s curriculum advisors include Steve Dakh (Etheruem, Kyrptokit), Craig Sellars (Tether, Omni, vAtomic), Gabriel Kurman (RSK Labs), Riccardo Spagni (Monero) and Paul Puey (Edge, Airbits).
When asked about the trainers who deliver Kingsland courses, Souza praises Patrick Galloway as a “passionate educator and developer,” who has “built several apps ranging from credit card payment portals to a lead assignment system for a mortgage company.”
“Galloway’s focus is on building strong fundamental skills through a hands-on approach to learning that equips his students with the refined thought processes necessary to become resourceful and skilled developers,” explains Souza.
Souza also praises Anar Ensaihan, an iOS engineer for a multitude of startups and apps that “have reached hundreds of thousands of users in markets including North America, Europe, and Asia.”
“He’s deployed a dApp on the Ropsten Ethereum network that fully takes advantage of the decentralized nature of the blockchain,” noted Souza.
Connections with world-class blockchain developers
Besides an impressive range of curriculum advisors, Souza highlights that Kingsland is fortunate enough to have an advisory board featuring “some of the leading minds and influencers in the space.”
Some of the many advisors who work to constantly refine and update Kingsland’s syllabi include Steve Beauregard (Bloq, GoCoin), Jonathan Teo (Binary, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram), Loretta Joseph (ADDCA, SSX), Chance Barnett (CoinCircle, Crowdfunder) and Jonathan Teo (Binary, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram).
“They’re all resounding voices in the curriculum development process because they are actively engaged with the practical applications, demands, and progressions of blockchain,” says Souza. “It is imperative that we not only stay up to date on the latest blockchain advancements but that we have the technical know-how to effectively incorporate emerging methods into our curricula. The advisory board allows us to do that.”
Kingsland to expand into Canada, Japan and Ukraine
Souza highlighted that Kingsland is currently engaging with potential partners to expand into multiple new regions soon. “Our next moves include bringing Kingsland’s blockchain programs to Canada where we announced a partnership last month with Shyft,” he says.
A similar partnership with Bitcoin.com was also announced at the World Blockchain Forum two weeks ago in London. This “will enable us to enter into the Japan and Ukraine markets,” Souza explains.
We at Block Telegraph would like to thank John Souza and the entire team at Kingsland University for making this interview possible and helping to raise awareness about the challenges and opportunities that exist in the blockchain space.