Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Skills pilot for graduates

A new initiative means Northern Ireland’s graduates will be better prepared than ever to meet the demand for specialist ICT skills.

The pilot training programme, Software Testers Academy, aims to provide graduates with the skills and experience required to take up new opportunities in the IT industry.

Software testing and quality assurance (QA) is increasingly a key growth area in this internationally focused sector.

The programme has been designed by Northern Ireland’s top IT companies with support from the Department for Employment and Learning and Invest NI under the department’s Assured Skills Initiative.

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.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “Matching the skillsets of our graduates with industry needs is vital to ensuring that Northern Ireland remains an attractive location for inward investment and a fertile ground for indigenous company growth.

“Invest NI carried out intensive research with some major ICT investors which identified a clear demand for talented people to take up high-quality software testing focused employment opportunities across a wide range of sectors, from pharmaceuticals to telecoms and financial services.

“Working in partnership with DEL, Invest NI then used additional feedback from the wider ICT base to create the Academy and ensure that it was shaped to meet the precise needs of businesses.

“This impressive degree of industry engagement has been pivotal in the development of the Academy thus far and will be a critical factor in its success.

“By building core software test competencies and transferable IT skills for participants, the Software Testers Academy will further strengthen the skills base, supporting the growth of a vital niche function within our important and growing ICT sector.”

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry added: “In direct response to an industry need for software testers, this pilot training initiative has been turned around in just a few months. The speed at which we have been able to bring it to fruition shows how effective a partnership approach between government, industry and the further education sector can be.

“This outlines my department’s commitment to matching the skills of the local workforce with the skills local employers need to help to grow their businesses and the local economy.

“Through our Assured Skills initiative, my department is focused on working with employers to ensure they have the skilled workforce they need – both now and for the future.

“We have had extensive input from the ICT industry and the further education sector to ensure the training is completely relevant to their business needs as well as providing valuable local job opportunities to graduates.”

The industry focus group involved in developing the Academy includes representatives from Citi, Liberty IT, Allstate, SQS and Openwave.

Applications to the Software Testers Academy will close on August 26, and the training programme for successful applicants will start at the end of October and run until mid-February 2012. It will be delivered by the South Eastern Regional College.

Applications can now be submitted online at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/softwaretesters or www.jobcentreonline.com.

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