Testing & Software QA Education

The Software Quality Workforce of the Future: Hire or Reskill?

AT*SQA Is Building the Roadmap for the Future of Testing and Software Quality Assurance

Fortune recently published a column by McKinsey & Company entitled "Why Legacy Companies Must Reinvent — or Die." The authors predict massive changes across industries due to "a perfect storm of hardware and software — such as sensors, deep learning, AI, next-generation chipsets, and virtual reality — that has reached sufficient maturity to enable new things (for example, autonomous vehicles) and new business models (such as virtual warehousing)."

The elements of this perfect storm bring with them an exponential growth in software. As news headlines remind us every day, however, this in turn means that industries will have a critical and ever-growing need for testing to help support software quality. It's not just a matter of hiring more software testers. Companies must find those with emerging skills to test technologies for which there may be no established body of knowledge for software testing.

This is not a problem solely borne by software quality, of course. By 2020, 35% of the skills demanded for jobs across industries will have changed over the four previous years, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). In their most recent "Future of Jobs” report, WEF predicts that by 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling.

You can't simply hire your way out of the problem: Highly skilled talent is in high demand — not just in one specific industry, but in all industries at the same time across the world, notes WEF. All companies are facing a significant global challenge of mismatch between supply and demand of talent with the skills required.

Is this pace of change putting software quality at risk? Yes.

Can companies readily meet the demand for software quality and the new skills that are required? No.

At least not by hiring. There simply are not enough existing software testers with the skills needed to tackle everything from AI to the Internet of Things to Big Data.

The answer, as the World Economic Forum suggests, is reskilling. This, however, is not something that can be done overnight. WEF's report, "Towards a Reskilling Revolution - Industry-Led Action for the Future of Work," suggest that among employees requiring reskilling, 35% are expected to require additional training of up to six months, 9% will require reskilling lasting six to 12 months, and 10% will require additional skills training of more than a year.

WEF finds there is "a compelling financial and non-financial ‘business case’ for companies and governments to reskill at-risk workers. More broadly, we find that companies across all industries should consider a triple investment today—reskilling at-risk workers, upskilling their broader workforce, and building structures for a learning organization—to prepare for both the short-term and long-term future of work."

So if reskilling is a necessity, where do we go from here? The World Economic Forum has worked to develop industry reskilling roadmaps for five industry groups: aerospace; aviation travel and tourism; consumer; financial services; and oil and gas. Of course, none of those industries can exist without quality software. So that is where the Association for Testing & Software Quality Assurance (AT*SQA) offers to contribute.

AT*SQA is developing a sustainable roadmap for testing and software quality assurance that will meet the reskilling needs of companies as well as governmental entities. We will share the early stages of that roadmap in the coming weeks.

If "Legacy Companies Must Reinvent — or Die," the same can be said for testing and software quality assurance. AT*SQA will most assuredly do its part in leading that reinvention.