Software academy offers a real skills boost for local graduates

Tony Keers, from Newtownabbey, pictured at an awards ceremony for graduates from the Software Testers' Academy with Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry and Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster. INNT 11-452-con
Tony Keers, from Newtownabbey, pictured at an awards ceremony for graduates from the Software Testers' Academy with Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry and Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster. INNT 11-452-con
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A NEWTOWNABBEY graduate has boosted his CV with a recognised qualification from the Software Testers’ Academy.

Tony Keers was one of 22 participants who received an award at the Long Gallery, at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, recently.

The ceremony was hosted jointly by Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry and Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Arlene Foster.

The Academy was developed by the Department for Employment and Learning and Invest Northern Ireland.

At the ceremony, Dr. Farry congratulated the graduates on completing the Academy saying: “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 Eastern Regional College to design and develop a 15-week course to convert non-IT graduates into software testers.

“The vast majority of the graduates have already received job offers from their placement companies, and I am optimistic that the remainder will secure permanent employment in this sector, as they now have skills that companies are looking for.

“The Academy model has been so successful that I can confirm another cohort of the Software Testers programme will be launched. I am also looking at the other areas and sectors that it could be applied to.

“We have a vast wealth of skills and qualifications amongst those are currently out of work, and the Academy model is an extremely effective way of harnessing those skills, and vital in encouraging economic growth in Northern Ireland.”

Arlene Foster added: “The success of the Academy is underpinned by a clear commitment from the ICT sector in Northern Ireland which has worked closely with Invest NI and DEL to articulate its needs and help to design and deliver industry-relevant solutions.

“Over the past 10 months, 21 international and indigenous IT companies have participated in focus groups, helped to design aptitude tests, provided interview questions, sat on interview panels, delivered guest lectures and provided course materials and places for placement students.

“The close and continued collaboration between industry and government has clearly delivered results for a key sector in Northern Ireland and will deliver significant benefits to the economy in the longer term.”

Twenty-four graduates, from disciplines ranging from English to psychology to politics to biological sciences, were accepted on to the 15-week academy, with 22 completing the programme. Students undertook nine weeks of classroom training at South Eastern Regional College followed by a six-week placement with a participating company. The majority of the trainees have now taken up employment with their placement company.

The ceremony was attended by the Academy trainees and their families, the participating ICT companies, and representatives of the South East Regional College, which delivered the training.