The rising demand for software testing engineers can help position Malaysia as one of the leading niche players in the growing software testing business running into billions of dollars annually, says the President of the Malaysia Software Testing Board (MSTB), Mastura Abu Samah.
A software testing engineer is normally responsible for testing new computer software or programs before the product is delivered to ensure that they work properly, perform the desired functions, and are free from defects.
Mastura said the current trend in "our highly automated world is for software testing engineers to become the ‘third eye’ to identify ‘bugs’ or problems in computer systems before the procurer or purchaser takes possession of the system from the vendor for use or deployment."
"Against such a scenario, the potential of software testing engineering is tremendous with the business able to soar to a RM20 billion industry by 2020," she told Bernama in an interview.
Mastura said as European and other Western countries increasingly outsource their software testing business to the Asia Pacific, Malaysia could take advantage of the opportunities being offered to specialise in this sector and in the process enhance the national income.
Starting with only 20 software testing engineers in Malaysia more than 15 years ago, MSTB has helped to increase the number to 1,600 engineers and the board is targeting 10,000 software testing engineers in the country by 2015, she said.
MSTB is the national body representing industry interests in promoting Software Quality Assurance (SQA) and software testing as core competencies in the development of IT-dependent quality products and services.
As a member of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), MSTB regulates the accreditation and certification processes for Malaysia.
"The board has set up a platform to promote the industry and we need to ensure that the applications being tested are tested well and at the same time ensure that there are multi-skilled people undertaking the tasks," said Mastura, who is regarded as a pioneer in this specialised field.
She said companies usually clamour for multi-tasking engineers who can design, test and deploy software rather than being confined to "doing just one thing."
Mastura said MSTB initiated the Malaysia Software Testing Hub (MSTH) programme, a strategic public-private partnership with the government to "pilot" an eco-system that would also identify new opportunities in the global economy against the backdrop of an innovative economic model for high-income growth.
"In other words, MSTB is undertaking one of the niche areas which our former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had envisioned in the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) initiative in 1996 towards creating a multimedia hub of knowledge workers," said Mastura.
MTSB, she said, is now working with several local universities to ensure that software engineers performing such tasks would be able to "skill-up" and adapt to the different domains in the market such as banking, telecommunications or human resource management.
Mastura said MSTB hopes to help produce software testing engineers who can prove their worth anywhere in the world with their skills, adding studies have shown that these highly-skilled specialists can easily earn between RM15,000 and RM18,000 a month.
To help Malaysian software testing engineers keep abreast of the latest developments, MTSB has invited 14 renowned international experts in the field to speak at Softec, a three-day conference and workshop beginning here on Tuesday.
This year’s event, themed "The Art of Testing", focuses on the finer points of software testing, particularly on testing techniques and their effective application.