The World Economic Forum wrapped up a summit in Davos, Switzerland featuring world and business leaders from around the world. Top of mind were issues and topics of discussion affecting every business, country, region, and industry. Among these discussions was the introduction of Education 4.0 which outlines the skillsets that students need to be successful in the workforce. In this article, we look at the key skillset in relation to the Quantum Computing Industry.
The need to solve problems has given rise to the necessity of quantum computers. It, therefore, follows, that problem-solving is a necessary skill set needed to work within the quantum computing industry.
Tying this to an overarching theme of problem-solving in the quantum computing industry, the fact that quantum computing aims to solve complex problems across a range of industries requires a workforce of researchers, engineers, scientists, and more that are firstly able to recognize the problem, approach them with curiosity and stick with the challenge of designing systems, algorithms, software, and hardware to solve decades-old or even new problems. This is the very definition of a problem-solver.
Problem-Solving as a Skill-Set for Quantum Computing
Students will be tasked every step of the way with challenges and conundrums when they choose to venture into quantum computing as a career path. Whether or not they choose to stick to research and the theoretical side of the industry or venture into industry and real-world applications of quantum computing.
Researchers in the field of quantum computing constantly seek to answer questions and scale the next hurdle. Although they may not be involved in the applications of their research, it is important that they possess the problem-solving skillset. Every hurdle in a laboratory or in the development and scaling of quantum computers can be seen as a problem and in order to be a valuable and contributing member of any quantum computing research program or lab, students will need to be able to approach problems with open minds, curiosity, and a willingness to think outside the box.
What might be tagged the “second half” of the industry consists of companies, organizations, and start-ups looking to solve real-world problems with the application of quantum computing. A student who finds themselves in such environments can only contribute if they have the necessary problem-solving skills.
The nature of the quantum computing industry necessitates collaboration for quick speeds of development and growth on the inter-entity level, like major collaborations between research institutes and quantum computing industry leaders like IBM. The need for collaboration trickles down even to each individual within the workforce.
Collaboration as a Skill-Set for Quantum Computing
The problem of scaling up quantum computers to provide a computational advantage is being taken on by scientists and engineers that pool together their unique abilities, expertise, and experiences. Collaboration is a key component in the industry.
In 2021, a physicist, Aggie Branczyk, compiled responses from colleagues in quantum computing on the core skills required and one response was; “A collaborative attitude, with a willingness to cooperate across disciplines (since quantum computing sits at the intersection of physics, CS, applied mathematics, etc).”
Many advancements in the quantum space have been a result of collaborations and fostering collaborative environments, with an example of this being the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP) which was founded in 2014. It is a £1 billion effort that supports technology centers in quantum sensing, imaging, communications, and computing. However, challenges faced along the way have required cross-collaboration across disciplines.
Every industry is subject to change, but none more than a rapidly growing industry like quantum computing. As research continues to unearth the depths of what quantum computing can do in a wide range of sectors and usage, the industry continues to pivot and change. Adaptability is, therefore, a required skill set.
Adaptability as a Skill-Set for Quantum Computing
In the same article by physicist, Aggie Branczyk, another response given to the question of what skill set is needed for a career in quantum computing was; “The goal is not always clear and it is sometimes hard to experience barriers while not knowing where you are heading. In this context, you need to be able to work with a lot of uncertainties.”
As rapidly as quantum computing is growing in popularity, it is still a relatively new industry and field, meaning that there is much to be discovered and plenty of ground to cover in terms of what can be done, and being adaptable is one of the only ways to make strides and breakthroughs. Adaptability will help to understand when to make shifts in planned work that could lead to the next big thing in the industry.
As quantum computing grows in popularity as a field of study and as a career path, students will need to adopt the necessary skill set to not just break into the industry but also to stand out and make an impact in their work.