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Vu Lam

Quality Insider

IT Workforce Program and Software Tester Help Shape Next Generation of Testers

Bringing technology education to underprivileged communities

Published: Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 11:54

F ounded in 1995, Per Scholas is the largest and oldest professional IT workforce development program in New York City, providing technology education, access, training, and job placement services for people in underserved communities. Per Scholas believes that one of the most effective ways to end poverty and unemployment is through access to good jobs. The program has provided free IT job training courses to more than 4,500 unemployed and low-income adults. Out of those 4,500 Per Scholas students, an average of 85 percent graduate, and 3 out of 4 graduates find jobs.

The value of a STEM education

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is critical in the future economic well-being of our nation. The technology industry, particularly the software testing market, is growing at a rapid rate. Software testing is projected to expand to a $40 billion global industry by 2020. To meet this high demand and provide their students with life-changing careers, Per Scholas, along with partners QASymphony, Barclays, Doran Jones, DevelopSense, QualiTest, Satisfice, SmartBear, uTest, Virtusa, and Workroom Productions, started the Software Testing Education Program (STEP).

STEP is an intensive lab-based, instructor-led course designed to prepare students for high-demand entry-level software testing roles. Through the program, students will gain access to cutting-edge software testing tools and real-life testing projects, as well as have the opportunity to work alongside professional testers, enabling them to surge ahead of the pack and find success.

“We are offering free licenses of our testing products for teachers to use with their students in their new software testing education track,” says Vu Lam, QASymphony co-founder. “We are excited to be a part of Per Scholas’ new STEP program and honored that they will be using our testing solutions to help expose the bright and eager minds of tomorrow’s QA leaders to the world of testing.”

Why software testing?

Because of the industry’s rapid growth, software testing has become a relevant topic to teach to Per Scholas students. With the move from Waterfall to Agile environments and from hosted to cloud deployments, testers need to address the problem of how to keep up with rapidly developed software. Companies like QASymphony fill that gap and provide tools for testers in agile environments.

When it comes to testing, every organization must decide what metrics are going to affect their bottom line the most, but the perception of the end user is what will always determine the success or failure of the business. Testers must constantly channel the voice of the consumer and look for ways to improve the product for their clients. Great software testers need to be bright and inquisitive, with a desire to learn and be challenged.

The power of partnerships

The STEP initiative wouldn’t exist without the pioneers that enable technology to be used to change the lives of students. Many technology partners collaborated with Per Scholas to provide students with real-world access to professional testers through half-day field studies, covering topics such as test management and execution, basic test automation, and defect tracking.

QASymphony is one of the partners supplying students with the industry-leading software and training they need to become testing experts. The company donated its cloud-based testing management software, qTest, to the STEP program. With qTest, QA testing teams can access a flexible and collaborative work environment to manage requirements, design test cases, plan test execution, track defects, and generate status and quality-metrics reports.

STEP financial backer Barclays, an early adopter of exploratory testing, has first-hand experience with the qTest platform. Keith Klain, former head of global testing at Barclays, has worked directly with Per Scholas students and has given them advice such as, “Learn to learn. People will ignore you if you are not relevant. You must self-educate—always. To be a good tester, be curious. Ask questions. Ask ‘why?’ (a lot). Don’t just execute steps and walk through the motions. Really try to find the problems and ask why something may not work.”

Klain, who is now the CEO at Doran Jones, is very optimistic about the future of software testing. “Software testing is the biggest growth segment in IT. Companies have lots of legacy systems that are increasingly complex. This means job insurance for skilled testers. Software testing has had a low barrier to entry, but to be skilled, you need a brain that thinks critically.”

Per Scholas is on a projected path of growth and greatness, changing lives through IT technology and the STEP program. With support from technology thought leaders like QASymphony, Barclays, and Doran Jones, Per Scholas and the STEP program will continue to prepare students to be valuable, in-demand software testers. “It pleases me to be able to encourage young people to learn how to be skilled testers,” says QASymphony CEO Dave Keil. “It’s an honor to pave the way for the next generation of testers to make an impact in the industry.”

To enroll in Per Scholas’ STEP program, visit http://perscholas.org/experience/software-testing-education-program-step-new-york/

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About The Author

Vu Lam’s picture

Vu Lam

Vu Lam is co-founder of QASymphony. He has significant and diverse software industry experience in the United States and international markets, including Asia and Europe. Lam has started and grown multiple technology ventures, including Paragon Solutions, a U.S.-based technology consulting company;  he led its growth from 400 to 1,300 resources. In 2011, Lam co-founded QASymphony with Josh Lieberman. Trusted for his leadership and deep industry knowledge, Lam is a board member for several technology startups. Lam received a master of science in electrical engineering from Purdue University and a bachelor of science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.