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Software testing training needs to be less about certificates

AS-NewsjackWas does it mean to be a well-rounded software tester? It’s easy to get hung up on the relevant certification, but having all the right documentation doesn’t necessarily make for a good tester.

In a blog for the Software Testing News, Steve Watson, director quality engineering, Reed Business Information, argues that the industry needs to change its approach to training.

As he puts it: “A certificate can tell us that the individual has passed an exam to understand elements of testing or agile etc., but cannot tell us how good their testing ability is day-to‑day.”

Watson makes the case that’s it’s just as important that testers have the requisite softer skills as it is the technical knowledge, and training should reflect this.

For instance, testers might be required to work with distributed teams, whereby verbal and written communication is not performed in their native language. Only those with a good grasp of what makes effective communication will succeed in such scenarios, Watson suggests.

It’s just as important to have the right attitude, good time management and an approachable nature – qualities that some employers might not place much of an emphasis on.

Watson also talks about having a “tester’s mindset” which he defines as being able to think outside the box, being innately analytical and having the drive to improve.

That isn’t to say technical skills aren’t of vital importance. Testers must keep up with the latest automated testing tools and programming languages for functional and non‑functional testing. However, they shouldn’t be developed at the expense of the tester’s mindset and softer skills.

Watson believes the impetus is on individuals firms and the industry to re-focus training towards these areas.

Speaking as an employee, he says: “We naturally focus our training and learning in areas that we feel are valued, so if we work for an organisation which places little value on the softer skills, then there is little incentive for us to focus on improving in those areas.”

So, then: less teaching, more talking?

 

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