The Coming Shortage of Software Testers

Imagine a world where software testers are courted and wooed like LeBron James; where online job boards are littered with “Testers Wanted” posts and where everyone can finally spell “QA” correctly. In other words, imagine a world with a shortage of software testers…

“Nonsense!” you say. “There’s plenty of software testers to go around.” Not for long, says SiliconIndia, who posits that a shortage of skilled software testers is only a matter of time. Citing various facts, figures and estimates from a recent Gartner study, the author examines the reasons behind this coming tester drought.

Pradeep Chennavajhula explains:

This shortage is now a major concern for the IT service organizations, considering that the academia is not geared up to support the program, and many of the training organizations are not geared up to meet the demand of the industry. In this scenario, the question still remains as to how is the industry planning to tackle the shortage of software testers?

Good question. Of course, we’ve dealt with these issues many times before on The uTest Blog. Here are a few posts with some answers:

Wishful Thinking On Software Testing, by Santhosh Tuppad
In this post, Santhosh explains why he thinks the current academic environment short-changes testers and their profession. He writes:

“Why are students not taught about thinking (example: lateral thinking) as a skill in most schools and colleges?” In the future, I wish to see schools dedicated only for software testing. We will see a great amount of value if an individual is taught about software testing from a much earlier age than college. That kind of expertise would be great for our craft.

Testing the Limits with James Bach, Part I
When we interviewed James Bach a few months back, we asked him how he would improve testing education if he were an all-powerful king for a year. Here’s what he said:

A spirit of exploration, experimentation, and debate would spread around the industry. It will seem to come from everywhere at once.

Weekend Testers would become Weekday Testers. TMap textbooks would be beaten into plowshares… and then recycled. Test plan templates and TPS reports would blow forgotten through streets lined with cheering crowds playing tester games designed to hone practical reasoning skill. By the thousands! FOR THE WIN!!

As far as university goes, I’ve already been doing my part. I helped found and run the Workshops on Training Software Testers, which brings university professors together to examine how to teach testing better.

I served on an advisory board for the Rochester Institute of Technology when they were trying to set up their degree program in software engineering, too.

But if I were king (not the modern Swedish kind but the old-school Caesar kind) I would make school a lot harder (much easier to expel a bad student) and instead of paying tuition, students would be paid.

Also, there would be no classes, as such, just constant projects and training. In other words, it would be almost exactly like Silicon Valley in the eighties, except with better corporate libraries.

Testing the Limits with Jon Bach, Part II
Jon Bach (James’ brother) chimed in on the subject of tester certifications. We questioned him on whether they were in fact worthwhile, to which he responded:

The only thing worthwhile about them is the debate they provoke. Window dressing is an apt metaphor because it’s only meant to enhance a window’s *appearance*. When there’s a flood or a storm or some other strong test of the window, the dressing often gets destroyed. Outside of the flood, people may prefer the look of the dressing; I just want to be a stronger window. Passing multiple choice tests about so-called “best practices” don’t do that for me.

Testing the Limits with Michael Bolton, Part I
Michael Bolton offered his views on where all the skilled testers are likely to come from, if such a shortage begins:

Scandinavia—Sweden in particular—and New Zealand seem to be percolating more excellent testing than other places.  Meanwhile, I observe that many Western firms—mostly the Americans—are making life difficult for testers in India and other developing countries. These firms didn’t know much about testing to begin with. They viewed it as a rote, clerical activity, piecework, checking work, commodity work that delivered little value. They knew how to do checking, sort of, very slowly and very expensively. But they didn’t know how to do testing, or how to increase its value, so they focused on cost and outsourced it.

So will we see a shortage of testers like some predict? Or will the industry take the advice of our esteemed bloggers?

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Comments

  1. says

    Well, taking a look into our industry, the claim is right. There are just few educational courses for software testers, certification programs are far from providing real value to the education question.

    But when I take a look around, there are many opportunities nowadays for self-education. Weekend Testing, Bach’s Buccaneering, Kaner’s Black-Box Software Testing videos, the Miagi-Do school of software testing. Long ago good testers realized this serious flaw and created alternatives – and they created them for good.

  2. says

    This is a serious cause of concern! I feel that there will be shortage of Good Software testers. Major IT institutions should take care of it and should build a platform where all the testers are given a chance to prove there ability and will also motivate them to do something unique, this will certainly help them churn there brains!

  3. says

    No more Gartner research, dually noted :)

    You’re right though, there does seem to be a major disconnect in testing education – not just in India, but everywhere. We’ll be dealing with this topic in much greater detail as part of our next Testing the Limits interview – stay tuned!

    Good to see you back here Pradeep. Thanks for the comment.

  4. says

    Actually, I am tired of people quoting the Gartner Research. I have quoted it too, once in public. I think I need to stop doing it.

    There might actually be a billion testers available but what matters is how good they are.

    The industry will continue to have a shortage, not of heads but for brains as the test education at least in India doesn’t appear to be in unison for focus towards bettering brains.

    The memory tests of terminology can’t take us far. I could be wrong and that is still good to prove my point.

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