We have entered an age where disruptive technological advancement is occurring at a pace we have not seen before. One of the multiple technologies of this age is quantum computing. Estimated future figures for the quantum computing market vary greatly. All project a double-digit compound annual growth rate (CAGR). An averaged of those multiple estimates came out at $6.25 billion USD by 2025. That is a substantial increase from the current quantum computing market estimate of $235 million USD. Stop for a moment and think about all that has to occur to grow enough to reach the $6.25 billion figure by 2025 given where we are today. Think about all the research and development needed to advance the current state of quantum computing to move it from a niche to a true commercial market. Think about all the hardware that must be designed and manufactured to create a quantum computer. Add to that all the software for the quantum computer operating systems, as well as the scientific and application support/management software that must be written to make quantum computers useful enough to be justified in a business-case. We should also include all the basic infrastructure to support the hosting of quantum computers on the cloud for the delivery of contract quantum computing services.
That begins to create a realistic snapshot of the product and services requirements. However, there is another requirement that is a far greater challenge and that is the human resources that the $6.25 billion market will demand. Last year, MIT published an article titled, “Q&A: The talent shortage in quantum computing.” An interesting article, but the problem goes far beyond what is addressed in that piece!
The article focuses on the shortage of scientists and engineers, but the issue is far greater than those two roles. What about all the technicians that are needed to design and manufacture the boards and chips for quantum computers, design and build the quantum computer itself, and how about the technicians that will have to go out to install and service the quantum computers that are operating in commercial and governmental facilities? But wait, the resources go far beyond that! How about all of the marketing and sales professionals that are beginning to be needed to go out and sell quantum computers. We must also look at how to train the practicing professionals that are working for the organizations that may buy and/or use quantum computers. Unique quantum computing applications must be developed that run on purchased hardware or submitted for execution leveraging purchased time on a quantum computing cloud. We need to train the software developers on one or more of the software languages (over a dozen) and development tools (over a dozen as well) specifically for quantum computers.
There is already a shortage in tech-talent globally. Currently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that this year (in 2020) there will be 1.4 million more software development jobs than applicants who can fill them. Many believe this will continue to get much worse. Now consider that all of the resources have to be developed and trained between now and 2025 if the $6.25 billion figure is to be hit. That’s the challenge of quantum talent development. This is an issue that must immediately be addressed or it will negatively impact the evolution of quantum computing and the use of this technology in business and government.