The software testing market in Australia is a mature one and has the potential to grow in the coming years as more software applications are beginning to penetrate the mobile solutions market. As in other parts of the world, Australian software testers are considered unique individuals within the software development community as the tasks undertaken by them require a high attention to detail over prolonged periods of time, whilst undertaking often very repetitive work. This tends to lead to a high attrition rate amongst software testers, to the detriment of many software testing companies and organisations requiring these skills. Utilising the innate natural talents and skillsets of individuals with Autism namely extreme attention to details, appreciation of predictability and capacity to focus, there is henceforth an opportunity to provide a unique solution to this challenge for Australian software testing industry.
Curtin University has formed the Autism Academy for Software Quality Assurance (AASQA) as an Australian social innovation initiative with the vision of harnessing the special talents of people with Autism for the collective benefit of these individuals, the industry and the wider community. The mission of the AASQA will be to enable individuals with Autism to leverage their unique talents through outreach, training and educating, and graduate programs, so as to create pathways from schools to valued, long-term employment; whilst addressing the business needs of the Australian ICT industry facing challenges in attracting and retaining software and quality assurance testers within the sector.
The Australian Computer Society (ACS) and the ACS Foundation are playing a key role in assisting with the set up and operation of the AASQA.
The AASQA will provide high-level and broad expertise and services in outreach, assessment, training, education and work placements for individuals with Autism in the software testing industry. Curtin University has successfully united a multi-disciplinary team of key researchers and industry leaders with expertise ranging from occupational therapy, software development, education and delivery of autism related services. The academy will focus initially on providing and satisfying two distinct, yet interrelated markets:
- Adults with Autism with an aptitude for software testing, seeking training, education and employment in the ICT industry; and
- Companies and organisations, both public and private, wishing to employ capable, trained and reliable software testers.
It will offer tangible value and benefits to both segments through:
- Identifying, training, educating and mentoring individuals with Autism to undertake software and quality assurance testing to internationally recognised industry standards;
- Enabling individuals with Autism looking for employment (with an aptitude for ICT), by providing a direct channel to predictable and suitable work environments;
- Educating employers on how to understand, prepare and care for employees with Autism enabling optimum job design processes and long-term employee retention;
- Developing training packages and mentoring programs, both for individuals with Autism as well as industry; and
- Creating sustainable, long-term industry partnerships to support the holistic integration of individuals with Autism into the workforce.
If you would like to know more about this program or would like to find out how you can support aspects of the program, please contact Assoc Prof Tele Tan by email at [email protected].
Prepared by : Associate Professor Tele Tan, Curtin University