Will there be enough quantum engineers in APAC?
With quantum computing gaining traction in the Asia Pacific, quantum engineers are now being highly sought after by companies looking to leverage the technology. From Japan launching its most powerful quantum computer last month to China developing its quantum computers, quantum engineers are a key ingredient in the quantum computing workforce.
Compared to other analytical tools, quantum computing has the potential to solve computational problems that are beyond the reach of normal computers. Harnessing the laws of quantum mechanics, developing quantum algorithms, and designing useful quantum applications require skills and approaches.
The quantum computing market is expected to grow to US$ 1.76 billion by 2026 with early adoption in the banking and finance sector expecting to fuel the growth of the market globally. QuantumComputing-as-a-Service (QcaaS) is now also being offered by some tech giants to companies looking to experiment with the technology.
As such, most use cases for quantum computing are still limited but growing globally. To ensure the development of the technology keeps going, big tech vendors are working with universities to develop next-generation quantum engineers with the hope of having sufficient talent available once the technology becomes mainstream.
Developing the quantum computing workforce
Japan’s most powerful quantum computer with IBM is used specifically for research and development while China’s own quantum computer supercomputer can solve problems faster than some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.
In Southeast Asia, the skills shortage gap is still a big concern. While the region has one of the fastest tech adoptions in the world, the skills shortage is still hindering most companies from going all out in their digital transformation.
An Amazon Web Services (AWS) report released earlier this year stated that between 666 million and 819 million workers in the Asia Pacific will use digital skills by 2025, up from just 149 million today, with the average employee requiring seven new digital skills to meet the growing demands in the industry.
Despite that, quantum computing is gaining traction in the region. Higher learning institutions in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia are offering more courses on the subject and are hoping to develop more quantum engineers in the near future.
Collaborating for better skills development
The National University of Singapore and AWS are collaborating to boost the development of quantum communication and computing technologies, as well as explore potential applications of quantum capabilities.
As part of the Quantum Engineering Program (QEP), AWS will support QEP in the development of quantum computing research and projects and connect to the National Quantum-Safe Network for quantum communications. Both areas include the identification of use cases and the development of applications to support the future commercialization of Singapore-designed quantum computing and communication technologies.
QEP has supported eight major research projects to further the development of quantum technologies. They include exploring more powerful hardware and software solutions for quantum computers for commercial tasks like optimizing delivery routes for goods, simulating chemicals to help design drugs, or making manufacturing more efficient.
According to Professor Chen Tsuhan, NUS Deputy President (Research & Technology), Singapore’s journey to becoming a knowledge-based economy requires a right mix of world-class talent, cutting-edge infrastructure, and a well-established knowledge transfer ecosystem.
“A cornerstone of this vision is the QEP hosted at NUS, which brings together expertise in quantum science and engineering and aims to translate radical innovations into commercial sable solutions. This collaboration between QEP and AWS is a crucial enabler for the nation’s full digital transformation and opens the door to a quantum-ready future.”
Amazon Braket, a fully managed quantum computing service, provides access to three types of quantum hardware, including quantum annealers and gate-based systems built on superconducting qubits and on trapped ions, as well as tools to run hybrid quantum and classical algorithms.
Its cross-platform developer tools provide a consistent experience, reduces the need for multiple development environments, and make it easy to explore which quantum computing technology is the best fit for an application.
With NUS looking to develop more use cases and skilled professionals in quantum engineering and other tech-related fields, Singapore can become a hub for quantum computing in the region in the years to come.
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