Blockchains, LLC launches workforce program at Nevada schools

Blockchains, LLC CEO Jeffrey Berns, right, talks about the company's mission during a panel discussion in October 2018, while Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel looks on.

Blockchains, LLC CEO Jeffrey Berns, right, talks about the company's mission during a panel discussion in October 2018, while Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel looks on.

SPARKS, Nev. — Backed by the notion that local companies currently need to go out of state to fill high-profile tech jobs, Blockchains, LLC is taking a significant step toward building a workforce for Nevada’s evolving blockchain industry.

The Storey County company on Nov. 11 announced the launch of its Blockchains Education Initiative (BEI), a pilot program focused on creating an education pathway for Silver State students to learn and develop skills for “well-paid careers” in the blockchain industry, according to a company press release.

All told, the average annual salary for a blockchain developer is roughly $133,000 in Reno and nearly $144,000 in Las Vegas, according to ZipRecruiter.

“The goal of the Blockchains Education Initiative is to develop an innovative and adaptable future workforce for blockchain technology in Nevada,” Sena Loyd, director of research and workforce development at Blockchains, said in a press release. “Currently, Nevada blockchain companies are unable to fill positions with qualified tech candidates locally and therefore must search out of state and even out of the country for this talent.”

In developing the program, Blockchains worked with fellow Northern Nevada tech companies — including Breadware, Figure and Totem — who affirmed additional education would help recruiting efforts, said Elaina Duffy, vice president of brand at Blockchains.

Throughout the process, Blockchains is also working with the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada and Nevada Industry Excellence, Duffy said.

Blockchains — which conceptualizes, develops and incubates blockchain-powered ideas — currently has three open positions listed, with “a couple more” in the pipeline, noted Duffy.

“Whether we look out of state to fill positions is dependent on the position,” she added.

Launched in partnership with Truckee Meadows Community College and Western Nevada College, Blockchains kicked off its pilot this fall at four Nevada high schools: Damonte Ranch in Reno; Cheyenne and Spring Valley in Las Vegas; and Oasis Academy in Fallon.

The dual-credit courses allow high school students to enroll in Blockchain I & II to receive both college and high school credit.

“We are extremely pleased about this exciting partnership, which opens great opportunities to our local high school students,” Dr. Karin Hilgersom, president of TMCC, said in a statement. “As a college serving our community, we are focused on finding innovative ways to provide cutting-edge and educational opportunities.”

Added WNC President Dr. Vincent R. Solis: “This partnership allows us to connect with students across the state and introduce them to careers of the future.”

Blockchains received a grant of $278,309 from the Nevada Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology (OSIT) to provide the students with additional resources to help cover textbooks and tuition for dual credits, as well as training for the instructors.

About 130 students each year will enroll in the blockchain courses during the pilot phase, according to OSIT, with Blockchains providing paid work experience for at least 10 following the completion of the course sequence.

“Jobs requiring (STEM skills) are growing twice as fast in Nevada as non-STEM jobs and pay 50% higher,” OSIT Director Brian Mitchell said in an email to the NNBW. “This program will help high school and postsecondary students gain in-demand skills in a cutting-edge industry that leads to career paths with family sustaining wages. We are excited to partner with Blockchains to grow Nevada’s STEM workforce.”

Halfway through the first semester of the Blockchains Education Initiative, the company has received enough positive feedback to propel plans for expansion, Duffy said.

According to the program’s web page, the company hopes to bring courses to “all schools across the state of Nevada.”

Yet, expansion is dependent on “a variety of factors,” Duffy said, including interest from schools throughout the state, availability of instructors, and school funding. As a result, Blockchains does not yet have a timeline for when the program will be rolled out in more schools.

When asked, company officials declined to reveal how much money Blockchains — which owns 67,000 acres of land east of Reno-Sparks at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center — is pumping into the BEI program.

“Our founder, Jeffrey Berns, is extremely passionate about providing Nevada students with additional opportunities to earn high-paying jobs,” Duffy said. “He is also a modest man and is grateful for having the opportunity to give back to the state.”

In the Nov. 11 press release, Berns said the company is “advancing the industry and creating more spaces for learning and innovation.”

“Industry is driving change in education and Blockchains is helping to drive that change,” he stated. “We are excited to create coalitions in support of expanding educational opportunities to students throughout Nevada in an emerging industry that will result in good-paying careers.”


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