Interview with Jason King, co-founder of Kingsland School of Blockchain on the Blockchain Education Partnership with the Tezos Foundation

Kingsland University School of Blockchain recently announced an exciting education partnership with the Tezos Foundation at NASDAQ, to provide curriculum development, training, and career placement solutions that solve the blockchain skills gap. Jason King, co-founder of Kingsland will be discussing this partnership with us in this interview.

1) Please tell us your name and about yourself?

I’m Jason King and I’m the co-founder of Kingsland University School of Blockchain. I’ve been involved in the blockchain space since 2010. I got into the sector as a humanitarian and activist, I saw early on the impact blockchain could have in leveling the playing field for the downtrodden and disenfranchised. As the years went on, I experienced first hand just how difficult it was to attract Blockchain Developer talent to ANY project. But, as hard is that is, it’s significantly harder to attract developers to humanitarian causes. The financial incentives to work at a for profit firm are just too high right now and the talent pool is too shallow.  Kingsland University – School of Blockchain was borne out of a realized necessity to build capacity in the ecosystem in order to ensure the future of blockchain for all great ideas, not just the ones that make a lot of money.

2) Tell us about Kingsland – School of Blockchain and the courses you offer?

Kingsland is the world’s first US-accredited blockchain training program; we offer technical training for existing software programmers to upskill as blockchain devs, advanced protocol specializations (like Tezos), and Executive Education programs. In addition to being accredited in the US, we run the only blockchain developer training program certified by the Singaporean Government.

We’ve run our in-person programs around the world, both in tier 1 cities and under-served regions. And will be transitioning soon to add extensive online course offerings and blockchain educational material.

3) Please tell us about your Education Partnership with the Tezos Foundation, what are the benefits for both Kingsland and the Tezos ecosystem ?

The skills gap in the industry is MASSIVE. There just aren’t enough skilled developers available to fill jobs. Currently, there are about 17 available jobs for every qualified blockchain developer.  So, It’s a great time to be a blockchain dev. But the flipside to that is thousands of projects, worth billions of dollars, are stalled because they can’t find the devs to support them.

The Kingsland-Tezos partnership addresses the growing need for developers at a protocol specific level. Tezos has made a lot of bold decisions in the design of their blockchain. In many ways they’ve created one of the most elegant solutions to on-chain governance and security. But with those choices there were trade offs in terms of the available talent pool of “raw materials” to work on the blockchain. Tezos is based on Ocaml, as is their Smart Contracting Language, Michelson. You’d be hard pressed to find a better language to build off of if your goals are security and accuracy assurance of the code. However, you will also be hard pressed to find an Ocaml developer. It’s not that they don’t exist, but they are a very niche subset of programmers. And if you are pretty good at Ocaml, you probably already have a great job (and 5 offers for new ones).

So that’s where we come in. We were already busy building out our functional programming offerings at Kingsland (Haskell/Ocaml) before the Tezos Foundation announced their plans to scholarship 1000 developers next year. So in addition to designing Tezos specific curriculum, we will be building a lot of resources to attract existing developers into the Ocaml world. More Ocaml devs == more available developers to get interested in working on Tezos.  We think this approach will help support growth to the Tezos ecosystem over the long-term, and Kingsland students who successfully complete the blockchain developer program with Tezos specialization will be well prepared to dig in on all of the promise of Tezos. It’s a win-win for both sides – Tezos get the devs they need, and Kingsland continues to ensure the future of blockchain through career-ready graduates.

The benefits aren’t limited to Kingsland and the Tezos ecosystem – the partnership incorporates significant scholarship opportunities to help distribute access to the Tezos curriculum to developers around the world – regardless of their socio-economic status.

4) Who is this Education opportunity for and what is the success rate so far?

Kingsland-Tezos Foundation partnership addresses the growing need for developers at a protocol specific level. We’re looking for developers from a range backgrounds – devs who have 3 – 5 years experience, those looking for a shift in career focus, and those looking to work on transformative global projects. If you are interested in Tezos, Ocaml or other functional language experience will be a big help. We’re committed to diversifying the sector and providing equitable access to our high-level blockchain training programs. The door is wide open for anyone willing to put in the time and effort to train in this new technology.

Most industries will be impacted in some way by blockchain technology, so our Executive Education program aims to galvanize the next wave of blockchain innovation at an enterprise level by giving executives the insight they need to lead industry-changing blockchain projects.

5) Is there any statistics on the blockchain skills gap, which countries need the blockchain courses and skills the most?

There’s a lot of data around the blockchain skills gap, the higher salaries for skilled blockchain developers, and the increasing demand in the sector.

But the strongest evidence that we need more blockchain devs? The sheer number of failed or stalled projects in 2018. The industry raised billions of dollars to fund these projects, and then hit a wall when it came to actually building them.

Despite the slow in the crypto market this year, blockchain technology is still projected to grow 16x by 2024. We’re already short on devs, and we’re in triage mode at the moment. Part of what Kingsland is aiming to fix is the long-term supply of skill developers for the industry.

6) What is the market size the Blockchain industries and which sectors will scale the most by 2020?

Every sector will be affected in some way. Every individual. Blockchain will be like the internet – a way of life. It will change the way we buy and sell. The way we conceptualize and store identity. Wherever there is a transaction, data that needs to be verified, data that needs to be transferred, blockchain will be there, underpinning it all.

You know it’s funny, John Oliver took a pot shot at our Industry earlier this year and called out EOS specifically for their claim that blockchain will improve everything in the world. The example they used was “How will blockchain improve Susan the pet Iguana”. Ironically, provenance of exotic pets is a use case several blockchain companies are working on. Making sure that animals are treated humanely and not coming from exotic pet mills is important to a lot of people. And I think blockchain is a natural fit to help solve that problem.

Which sectors will scale most by 2020? Hard to say – probably fintech, as they’ve been pushing into the space the longest. Anything on a supply chain. And the Health sector. Fintech is a $37b sector, Supply Chain is $13b, and Health is $3trillion. And they’re all pushing into blockchain. Buckle up.

7) What are the critical challenges stopping blockchain from  Scaling globally and how can these problems be solved?

Adoption. Regulation. Resourcing.

The larger world, especially enterprise corporations, is just beginning to explore the impacts of blockchain on their business. They’re being forced to face a wave of change bigger than the internet, and they’re scrambling to understand – the tech (what it can and cannot do), how it’s going to change or eliminate their industry, and what they can do to stay ahead of the wave. This comes down to education. With education comes adoption. With adoption comes growth and scalability.

Regulation. Regulation is often seen as antithetical to the founding principles of the technology. But if we want to see it scale at a global enterprise level, regulation is going to be key. A handful of governments, like Malta, Mauritius, Australia, and Bermuda have been setting the standard for regulation, which will help drive the adoption rates of blockchain.

The industry cannot scale without developers. If there’s no one to build it, no one will come. It’s why the Kingsland-Tezos partnership has so much promise. The Tezos Foundation is building an army of developers to lead the charge into a decentralized future. I think you will find that the companies that focus on creating vibrant developer communities around their technology will have a significant advantage in the marketplace in the years to come.

8) How can we enrol for the blockchain course, what is the cost and what is the duration of the program?

Students can enrol on our website. We’ll be announcing our 2019 course dates in early December – and believe me, it’s going to be a huge year at Kingsland. We’re rolling out courses in North and Latin America, Australia, South Korea, Mauritius, and many other countries around the world. We’re really looking forward to growing our network of students and helping them get into new careers in blockchain.

Kingsland offers courses in a few different delivery modes, from a five-part modular course where students undertake intensive face-to-face learning for three days at a time, to hybrid courses with some face-to-face and some online learning, and our full immersion program which is four weeks of full time face-to-face study followed by four weeks of online/collaborative project work. Executive courses range from one to five days, depending on the program.

Our courses are subsidized by government and private enterprise grants in some regions, so the prices vary depending on where the course is being conducted. Interested students should check the website for more information on location-specific pricing.

We also offer scholarships for high-achieving candidates. Register for our newsletter for updates on scholarship assessments.

9) What kind of support do students receive from Kingsland to make sure they get the best from the course?

We’ve got a really dedicated team who really want to see Kingsland students succeed; students get a lot of ‘face time’ with instructors and our training teams are involved in student success from the very beginning to the very end of the training process. The programs are hands-on and students work in dev teams to complete exercises and projects, so fostering a strong and supportive learning environment is really key.

10) Is there a certificate that comes with the program, what kind of jobs can a graduate find with the skills and certificate?

There are several pathways to certification, and students who complete these pathways are awarded a Kingsland Certified Blockchain Developer certification. We’re focused on career-ready skills, so we guarantee career placement support for all of our certified students.


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