The vital role of recruiters in growing the quantum workforce
Finding qualified talent is top of mind for employers in the emerging quantum industry; workers are needed to fill a growing number of positions at all levels. The range of job types and the associated skills and knowledge have been analyzed by QED-C. The current pipeline of graduates is inadequate and will take time to develop — starting at K-12 levels where students make early decisions about their interest in STEM subjects.
But quantum can’t wait. As startups are formed and as investors make bets, there is demand for experienced leaders to grow the emerging businesses. Whether a startup, a growing small or mid-sized business or a larger company that is building a quantum business unit, finding the right people is essential to success. And today it is a “job seeker’s market”. This is where an experienced recruiter can help.
The cutting-edge of quantum recruitment
Growing the workforce of an emerging technology requires thinking outside the box. There are currently a limited number of people that are classically trained in quantum. According to a June 2022 report from McKinsey & Company, in December 2021 there were 851 active quantum job postings but roughly 290 graduates yearly ready to fill a quantum technology (QT) role with little to no training. However, there are strong candidates in other industries or areas of focus that could be trained in quantum technologies. The same report estimates that nearly 350,000 people graduate annually with QT-relevant knowledge.
Herman Collins, CEO of Strategic QC, a quantum recruiting company, works with companies of all sizes to help them build teams that add tremendous value no matter where they are on their quantum journey. From a recruiting standpoint, Herman says that companies who are open to education and cross-training of their workforces, stand to gain top-tier talent looking to enter the workforce or make a career change, “Talent can be trained or cross-trained for quantum and quantum-related activities. This does not mean you must train someone to be an applied physicist. There are many roles within the quantum industry”, he said.
Education and unique skills for a quantum future
Making a shift to the quantum industry is accessible to anyone with a desire to learn. There is an opportunity for talent to use their backgrounds in engineering, physics, chemistry, mathematics and other areas of expertise to make the transition. Herman suggested that employees check with their companies to see if a form of tuition reimbursement to participate in a local or online educational program is offered or perhaps will fund company training.
Growing the quantum workforce also requires an investment in those not yet in the workforce, including college and high school students. This emerging workforce has a lot of options when it comes to careers in technology. Howard suggested quantum companies make use of social media to showcase the possibilities of quantum technology and meet emerging talent where they are.
With quantum technology breaking into mainstream pop culture through film and television shows like Star Trek or Marvel’s Ant-Man, Dr. Strange and Ms. Marvel, kids and young adults are becoming more aware of quantum but hearing about careers in quantum from a real-life “Hank Pym” helps take quantum from science fiction to reality. Herman acknowledged the need for investment in a quantum education curriculum but urged that industry professionals help guide interest as well, “Quantum companies can invest in education at the elementary and high school levels by donating their talent to speak at schools and events where young people are looking to figure out what they want to do with their futures.”
For young people that already know what they want to do with their futures, there are ample resources available to start their quantum education, even as early as elementary school. Herman provided some advice for those interested in a career in quantum computing, “If your school offers quantum computing courses, take them; if not, online courses are available. Read everything you can on the industry and the discipline. If you’re on the technical side, take courses in linear algebra and learn Python, for example. Check out Qiskit, an open-source software development kit (SDK) for working with quantum computers.”
Herman summed it up succinctly: “Just dive into quantum.”
Quantum Technology Monitor, McKinsey & Company: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/the-rise-of-quantum-computing
IQT Conference: https://iqtevent.com/fall/