Professor of information security Raimundas Matulevičius, who leads the project at the University of Tartu, one of the TOP 300 universities worldwide, explains how CHAISE is helping to improve tech innovation in Europe by developing digital and blockchain skills.
What is the aim of the CHAISE project?
The CHAISE project is the Erasmus+ Sector Skills Alliance programme. The project is a blueprint for the sectoral collaboration on blockchain skill development. The purpose is to develop a strategy and curriculum to teach people about the blockchain, and impart the various skills needed to create, support, and maintain blockchain technology applications. The CHAISE project develops measures to improve blockchain literacy. This means that people will understand blockchain technology, its abilities, and when it should be used compared to traditional applications. If people start developing projects, it would be possible to separate whether they need to use blockchain to solve the problems or take a conventional approach. The project aims to create the first-ever ‘Blockchain specialist’ occupational profile. In other words, we will define EU-wide occupational requirements for the blockchain workforce to address fragmentation in the labour market and set standard educational requirements for blockchain skills across the EU.
Simply speaking, what is blockchain technology?
It’s a different approach to computer systems that shifts traditional, centralised architecture to a distant, decentralised approach. In the blockchain, we have a distributed immutable ledger technology, meaning that we have a kind of accounting ledger, and we are distributing this accounting ledger to the different participants in a network. Everyone has a copy of that ledger. When we add a new entry, which constitutes a ‘block’, to this ledger, it is copied across to all the participants. This is one of the main components of shifting from centralised to decentralised architecture. We do not have the notion of a trusted party, where someone needs to validate that everything is correct; every participant in the network has the ledger and can validate whether it is correct.
Why is blockchain technology a breakthrough?
We don’t need a trusted party, as I already mentioned. So this, in a way, removes the issue of trust because the architecture by itself becomes self-tested. We also have a lot of means, which add to the security of this type of architecture. I’m not saying that the blockchain is a silver bullet and solves all the security problems. Still, at least it guarantees the shift of the traditional security threats and risks in the centralised architecture. These threats are no longer relevant, as they no longer exist in the system because of this architectural change. Removal of a trusted party, the introduction of the cryptography principles, proof of work, and the consensus mechanism are all parts of this possible mechanism. It allows us to build, potentially at least, a little bit more secure, optimised, and efficient system.
There’s also a European blockchain strategy. What is that?
It is about the European blockchain strategy to develop different skills, introduce the programme, as well as the learning and teaching programme to acquire the various skills. It is the acquisition of diverse skills and understanding of the market needs for this learning programme. The set includes technical, transversal, and business skills. These are also related to concerns such as abilities, attitudes, and values. Then there are different public or non-public sectors (e.g. healthcare, supply chains, and others) in which such skills are needed.
What results are you looking for with this project?
The project should result in an innovative 5-semester blockchain vocational education and training curriculum in 11 EU languages. CHAISE will develop a blockchain training program to address the need for technical, non-technical, and cross-discipline skills. Furthermore, all the developed learning materials will be available to everyone via a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The University of Tartu is responsible for the work package where this curriculum is developed. The project will adapt the forecasting model to explain how the needed skills will change year to year. One of the goals is to establish a mobility scheme for exchange students and professionals between different countries and institutions. The CHAISE partnership brings together 23 partners and five associated partners from 15 EU countries. Our partners are from educational institutions, the public sector, certification companies, and development companies.