Awards ceremony for innovative Software Testers’ Academy

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, and Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Arlene Foster today jointly hosted an awards ceremony for graduates from the Software Testers’ Academy.

In July last year, the Department for Employment and Learning and Invest Northern Ireland launched the ‘Software Testers Academy’ to provide graduates with a recognised qualification and the skills needed to pursue a career in a thriving IT industry.

During the ceremony in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Dr Farry said: “The Software Testers’ Academy is an excellent example of supporting graduates to find employment. My Department worked closely with Invest Northern Ireland, several local information technology companies and South East Regional College to design and develop a 14-week course to convert 20 non-IT graduates into software testers.

“All the companies were impressed with the standard of the trainees, especially given their non-IT backgrounds, and have been uniform in telling us that the trainees met or exceeded their expectations. This is reflected in the fact that almost all of the trainees have now been offered ongoing employment. I am confident the remainder will also secure permanent employment in this sector, as it is clear they now have the skills to succeed.

“Matching the skillsets of our graduates with industry needs is vital for economic growth in Northern Ireland. Through the Assured Skills initiative, both my Department and Invest Northern Ireland are focused on working with employers to ensure they have the skilled workforce they need – both now and for the future.”

Arlene Foster added: “The Software Testers Academy is the product of a remarkable collaborative effort by government, the software sector and academia to swiftly design and deliver a bespoke programme to fill a skills gap within Northern Ireland’s ICT sector.

“This initiative also received an impressive level of engagement from industry and illustrates the sector’s commitment to clearly articulate its needs but also to contribute to the development of industry-relevant solutions.

“As a result of the success of this pilot programme, a further 20 trainees will shortly be recruited for a second phase of the programme. The Northern Ireland Executive is committed to assuring the continued availability of professionals with the right skills like technology to ensure the future growth and prosperity of the local IT sector.

“I wish the academy graduates well in their future careers as software testers and I commend all of those involved in this successful initiative.”

The ceremony was attended by the Academy trainees and their families, the participating companies, and a range of information and communications technology sector organisations. Also in attendance were representatives of the South East Regional College, which delivered the training.

Twenty graduates, from disciplines ranging from accountancy to humanities to philosophy, were accepted on to the 14-week academy, with 19 completing the programme. Students undertook eight weeks of training followed by a six week placement. The majority of the trainees have now taken up employment with their placement company.