Second Software Testers Academy launched

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr. Stephen Farry, today launched the second cohort of the Software Testers’ Academy.

The programme aims to provide graduates with the skills and experience required to take up exciting new opportunities in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry. Software testing and quality assurance is increasingly a key growth area in this internationally focused sector.

The Minister said: “Last week, I launched the ICT Action Plan to help match the skills of the workforce with the skills our employers need. The Software Testers’ Academy is an excellent example of how we are doing exactly that. If we are to realise the ICT sector’s full potential, it is clear that more needs to be done to improve the match between the skills of those people in the workforce and the skills our employers require to help our companies grow. This Programme proves that government, the private sector and our further education colleges can respond quickly to design a bespoke programme to fill a skills gap.”

The programme has been designed by Northern Ireland’s top ICT companies with support from the Department for Employment and Learning and Invest Northern Ireland under the Assured Skills initiative. It was developed collectively between government, the ICT sector and South Eastern Regional College to meet an identified skills gap.

Targeting HND or degree graduates from any discipline, the Academy will offer an intensive 14-week training programme, including a company placement, to 20 successful applicants. Successful participants will gain an industry recognised qualification and a potential offer of employment.

The Minister continued: “The results of the first cohort were outstanding – some 94% of the participants, who were all from non-IT backgrounds, secured ongoing employment in software testing. Following on from this success, we are now recruiting a second cohort, and I would encourage any unemployed graduate to consider a career in the vibrant and growing local ICT sector.”

Commenting on the Academy, Rob McConnell, Director of SQS NI who recruited four of the graduates from the first cohort, said: “I am extremely pleased with the calibre of graduates from the first cohort of the Software Testers Academy and am fully supportive of this second phase. Initiatives like this which widen the ICT skills base are essential to ensure both the future of the indigenous NI software industry and the continued attraction of Foreign Direct Investment to NI.”

Barry McCann, one of the trainees from the first cohort who is now working with Openwave Mobility, said “I would strongly encourage any graduate out there to apply for the Software Testers’ Academy. It's a lot of new ideas and new thinking but it is very rewarding – as shown by the fact that the vast majority of us are working as software testers in several different companies. There is a lot to learn in a short space of time but it is fulfilling and leads to a genuine and interesting career path.”

Applications to the Software Testers Academy will close on 27 July and the training programme for successful applicants will start during September and run until December 2012. The training will be delivered by the South Eastern Regional College.