We have to worry about the lack of quantum skills

Quantum computing is poised to transform the way companies deal with certain key issues for their future, that of humanity, that of the planet. While the technological barrier to the deployment of quantum computing could disappear in the coming decade (notably thanks to QaaS services in the cloud), a major obstacle persists: the lack of quantum skills in the labor market.

By Erik Garcell, Technical Marketing Manager at Classic.

According to one of our recent studies, quantum computing will bring an array of benefits to businesses, including cost savings, new revenue streams, and competitive advantages. But the survey also highlighted a lack of qualified engineers and scientists who can program quantum computers. What today, mainly slows down the generalization of this technology.

Not only will this lack of qualifications prevent companies from fully exploiting the power of quantum computing, but it will also lead to costly competition between those who will seek by all means to hire the few specialists available on the labor market. So how did this skills gap arise? And what can companies actually do to fix it?

Coding for the Quantum Age

As a first step, it is necessary to understand what are the missing skills that cause this shortage. Some readers may wonder why today’s programmers and computer engineers fail to meet this demand. Because, in addition to the purely technical skills needed to code quantum computing, such as creating dedicated circuits and software, there is also a lack of knowledge on how to respond to a business challenge using a computer. quantum.

Indeed, while many programmers trained in classical computing are capable of designing a portfolio optimization program, they arguably could not reproduce it on a quantum computer. They probably wouldn’t know where to start, how to verify their results, or even how to run their code on a quantum device.

Quantum computer coding is also more complex than classical, because writing quantum code is trickier: each ” qubit can be one and zero together, instead of one or the other. Coders must be able to manipulate quantum concepts such as superpositions. Working in this area therefore involves new ways of looking at issues and requires new working methods.

This last aspect is accentuated by a technology gap, as quantum programming has not been made abstract like classical programming – it is still mostly done at the level of assembly language. At this stage, it is possible to write a few dozen lines of quantum programs, but this operation requires a lot of time. It is therefore almost impossible to create complex quantum programs of several hundred or even thousands of lines.

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Make up for the lack of skills

The first instinct of companies wishing to exploit quantum technology is to recruit, but there are not enough trained quantum experts on the market. In addition, there is likely to be strong competition for the few qualified graduates. Faced with this shortage, companies must instead think about how to train and develop the skills of their own teams.

Convincing current employees to train should not be a problem. Engineers and programmers want to strengthen their skills: nearly 95% of respondents to our survey said they wanted to be trained in quantum techniques. Why is this demand so strong? Because not only is this new technology exciting, but many employees hope to be able to secure their jobs or increase their income thanks to quantum skills.

The professional training of employees is not necessarily expensive either. There is already a wide range of open resources, such as the Qiskit SDK, designed to help users explore this new technology. For companies, the best solution is to provide their engineers with the time and space to learn about quantum on their own. Simply giving incumbent coders the freedom and resources to explore this technology and its benefits can prove to be a worthwhile long-term investment.

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Furthermore, by improving the skills of existing teams rather than recruiting external profiles, it would be easier for them to understand the type of challenges to be overcome by the company, because they know its structure well.

In addition, new products are emerging that could help bridge the technology gap and facilitate coding for the quantum era. Sophisticated low-code software today is able to remove some of the complexity of writing quantum code, which speeds up the learning process.

However, the rise in competence is not the only element to be taken into account. Companies must also invest in the resources and infrastructure that support their new quantum talents. They also need to build teams, identify use cases that can benefit from this technology, and find the right vendors and cloud service providers that will allow them to test and simulate their quantum programs.

Even though the quantum revolution is still far ahead of us, companies must ensure now that they have the necessary skills and infrastructures to take advantage of this technology, or risk being outpaced by better-prepared competitors.

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We have to worry about the lack of quantum skills


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