05 Jan 2023

Ready your quantum workforce (Guest blog from EY)

Authors: Robin Brown, Partner, People Advisory Services, EY
               Josie Cluer, Partner, People Advisory Services, EY

As quantum computing technology continues to develop and mature, businesses are increasingly exploring its potential applications. However, a new survey by EY has revealed that UK businesses face significant challenges when it comes to developing and preparing the relevant skills and talent.

Quantum computing harnesses the peculiar behaviour of atomic and subatomic particles to execute certain types of algorithms faster and more efficiently than classical computers. This could offer solutions to previously intractable problems, with significant impacts on individual businesses, as well as entire sectors and economies.

The EY Quantum Readiness Survey 2022 found that nearly half (48%) of UK businesses expect quantum computing to play a significant role in their industry sector by 2025.

Despite the significant investment in quantum computing, including a ten-year, £1 billion national quantum technologies program in the UK, EY’s survey confirms that "scarcity of quantum talent" is the key risk identified by executives in the UK and Ireland. Part of the problem is that current skills and knowledge in digital computing do not easily translate to quantum computing. The skills currently required to design quantum algorithms are on the cutting edge of electronics, linear algebra, probability theory, and programming – an exceptionally rare mix.

So, how can talent leaders find, nurture, and retain the skills and knowledge that their organisations will need? How will they fulfil the immediate demand for engineers, scientists and programmers for quantum computers while simultaneously preparing their wider workforce with the more general technology and business-oriented skills needed as valuable quantum use cases emerge?

Readying the quantum workforce doesn’t require a complete overhaul of the learning and development programmes we already have for digital technologies – we can’t possibly redesign talent systems every time a new technology emerges. Instead, talent leaders should be thinking about doubling down on existing activities, which foster broader technological understanding and enthusiasm across their organisations, while identifying additional requirements for specialised skills and human capabilities as quantum applications and use cases become viable. 

Here are five ways talent leaders in the public and private sectors can tackle the challenge.

  • Educate and extend access – As STEM subjects become embedded in higher education, make use of initiatives such as scholarships to extend and improve access to students following quantum computing courses, and create a strong talent pipeline.
  • Upskill existing workers – Focus on upskilling your existing workforce to develop the necessary quantum skills.
  • Develop a partner community – Forge relationships with a community of technology partners to access quantum skills that aren’t available within your own organisation.
  • Harness the power of diverse talent – Improve representation from women, ethnic minorities, neurodivergent individuals to stimulate innovation and talent growth.
  • Create broader awareness and understanding – Develop a broader base of skills among business leaders, which will help in the commercialisation of quantum computing applications.

Although it’s impossible to predict precisely how quantum computing may develop, there are clear signs that it is progressing apace. There is a now a greater likelihood that early adopters could gain significant advantages over their competitors through experimentation and wider preparation. So, it’s important that businesses are investing to develop quantum skills and knowledge. What skills will you need, and where will you go to get them?

Talent leaders who adopt pragmatic, but future-focused, approaches are most likely to succeed as the potential of quantum technologies are realised. The message is clear – the time to ready your quantum workforce is now.

You can read the full article, “Ready your quantum workforce”, on EY’s website: Ready your quantum workforce | EY UK

Cloud Access to Integrated HPC and Quantum Data Centres

Guest blog from D-Wave

Read more

Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Head of Technology and Innovation, techUK

Rory Daniels

Rory Daniels

Programme Manager, Emerging Technologies

Chris Hazell

Chris Hazell

Programme Manager - Cloud, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Sue Daley

Sue Daley

Director, Technology and Innovation