How do we develop a quantum ready workforce?
I like to draw parallels between Classical and Quantum computers to illustrate where we are on our Quantum Journey. In classical computing, it took 71 between the first computer, the Turing Machine being developed till the first iPhone came to market. Likewise, we are only 20 years into Quantum hardware, but it is rapidly improving. We need the UK to be Quantum Ready to reap the benefits as soon as the hardware becomes available.
To unlock the full potential of Quantum Computing in Industry we need the algorithm rich knowledge from Quantum Researchers to meet the specific computationally expensive challenges faced by the industry. The largest gap in the workforce is individuals with expertise in both these areas. One might suggest getting two people to work together, one with industry knowledge and the other with Quantum knowledge. Unfortunately, this is a lot harder to execute in practice since it isn’t obvious which use cases and problems could be improved with Quantum Devices. Both industry experts and quantum specialists both struggle with identifying each other.
So, how can we solve this in the near term? There are two obvious solutions from my perspective. Firstly, we train members of the Industry with enough Quantum Computing knowledge, so they know to highlight potentially computationally expensive use cases for Quantum Computers. Secondly, a Quantum Specialist could be dropped into a company and rotated through different departments investigating the entire business and highlighting areas of interest. Both these approaches can lead to fruitful PoCs and the identification of near-term use cases. To this end, I expect there to be rapid growth in training pathways, certifications, and quantum education for non-scientists and experts alike. It is something that I and many others are working on today.
In the longer term, I expect algorithms to be optimized and simplified, lowering the barrier to using gate computing. The day when Quantum Computing hardware becomes available easily accessible and cheap for the public to use, we will see applications that we can’t even dream of today (much like the explosion of the Web and its applications). That day is a long way away but each PoC, each lesson taught, each webinar viewed brings us one step closer to that future.
Laura is techUK’s Head of Programme for Technology and Innovation.
She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies, including Quantum Computing, High-Performance Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies, across the UK. As part of this, she works alongside techUK members and UK Government to champion long-term and sustainable innovation policy that will ensure the UK is a pioneer in science and technology
Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.
Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.
Rory joined techUK in June 2023 after three years in the Civil Service on its Fast Stream leadership development programme.
During this time, Rory worked on the Government's response to Covid-19 (NHS Test & Trace), school funding strategy (Department for Education) and international climate and nature policy (Cabinet Office). He also tackled the social care crisis whilst on secondment to techUK's Health and Social Care programme in 2022.
Before this, Rory worked in the House of Commons and House of Lords alongside completing degrees in Political Economy and Global Politics.
Today, he is techUK's Programme Manager for Emerging Technologies, covering dozens of technologies including metaverse, drones, future materials, robotics, blockchain, space technologies, nanotechnology, gaming tech and Web3.0.
Sue leads techUK's Technology and Innovation work.
This includes work programmes on cloud, data protection, data analytics, AI, digital ethics, Digital Identity and Internet of Things as well as emerging and transformative technologies and innovation policy. She has been recognised as one of the most influential people in UK tech by Computer Weekly's UKtech50 Longlist and in 2021 was inducted into the Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK Tech Hall of Fame. A key influencer in driving forward the data agenda in the UK Sue is co-chair of the UK government's National Data Strategy Forum. As well as being recognised in the UK's Big Data 100 and the Global Top 100 Data Visionaries for 2020 Sue has also been shortlisted for the Milton Keynes Women Leaders Awards and was a judge for the Loebner Prize in AI. In addition to being a regular industry speaker on issues including AI ethics, data protection and cyber security, Sue was recently a judge for the UK Tech 50 and is a regular judge of the annual UK Cloud Awards.
Prior to joining techUK in January 2015 Sue was responsible for Symantec's Government Relations in the UK and Ireland. She has spoken at events including the UK-China Internet Forum in Beijing, UN IGF and European RSA on issues ranging from data usage and privacy, cloud computing and online child safety. Before joining Symantec, Sue was senior policy advisor at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Sue has an BA degree on History and American Studies from Leeds University and a Masters Degree on International Relations and Diplomacy from the University of Birmingham. Sue is a keen sportswoman and in 2016 achieved a lifelong ambition to swim the English Channel.