Expanding Georgia's IT Landscape: Building a professional community in software testing

Natia Sirbiladze, Elene Tsikarishvili, Elena Treshcheva


Throughout the entire existence of Exactpro, adhering to the principle of 'Exitus Acta Probat' – where it is the outcome that validates the actions taken – has been the team’s guiding force. As a company, we firmly believe in persistently pursuing our goals, no matter how challenging, until they are achieved.

In this paper, we describe a case study illustrating this principle: this piece tells a story of a great collaboration between an Exactpro’s local branch and a newly established certification body that helped forge a new professional community transforming the IT landscape in Georgia.

When Exactpro, a company specializing in software testing from its inception, entered the Georgian IT market in 2018, we saw a gap in the country’s software testing landscape and embarked on a challenging journey to transform the Georgian talent market. But it was only with the help of Georgian Software Testing Qualification Board (GeoSTQB) [1], a local branch of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) [2], that we were able to shift the market vision and establish software testing as a recognized professional domain and a vital part of the local industry. Our collective experience, outlined further in this paper, may prove to be useful for any developing professional community as it describes the steps taken and provides the metrics of the achieved results.

Laying a strong foundation

Back in 2018, the Georgian software testing landscape was quite scarce, as this professional field was largely overlooked in various industries, including IT, government, and financial services. There was a lack of training, funding, support, and, most importantly, an understanding of the crucial role software testing plays in delivering operational software. Moreover, the profession of a software tester wasn’t considered attractive, pushing few engineers tapping into this domain to move towards other occupations, such as software development, business analysis, or project management.

To help software testing gain its status, there was a need for a strong foundation. Still new to the local IT community, Exactpro reached out to a number of IT enthusiasts who understood the importance and future perspective of software testing. Gradually, these people were able to attract professionals who already had extensive experience in various areas of IT, including software development and quality assurance. As a first step towards establishing software testing as a profession, the group decided to connect with the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) and set up its local representative branch – resulting in the launch of the GeoSTQB in October 2019. This enabled them to aim for bigger goals like building the community, promoting the profession, and discovering local professionals and new talents.

Reinforcing the new profession through certification

Even prior to the establishment of GeoSTQB, the ISTQB exam had been available to aspiring software testers – however, those willing to take it had to travel abroad. As the board gained its official status, the next step was to provide the opportunity to certify locally, in Georgia.

To do so, we needed two things – an accredited exam center and an exam provider. GeoSTQB established business relations with the Global Association for Software Quality (GASQ) [3], one of the leading exam providers in the area of software testing. Shortly after that, starting January 16th, 2020, Exactpro set up a certification center in its Tbilisi office, supporting the initiative and bringing local certification opportunities to Georgian IT specialists.

The new certification center has withstood the global Covid-19 pandemic: during the lockdown, ISTQB launched certification opportunities through remote proctored exams, and once the restrictions were lifted, in order to support educational opportunities, the branch has kept both remote and on-location exam options.

Creating life-long educational opportunities

Creating opportunities to take exams locally was a big step, especially for the market where software testing was still new. However, one of our main goals was creating life-long educational opportunities. This decision was dictated by several factors. First, many international IT companies have entered the Georgian market, resulting in huge increase in demand for software testing professionals. Second, the market got more accustomed to the profession, realized its importance in software development, thus, attracting local talents to consider software testing as a career path.

To help young professionals make their first steps in software testing and guide those who considered a career move from adjacent fields, we started offering them learning and development opportunities. Exactpro was one of the first companies to offer expert assistance, building upon our extensive industrial experience and having a dedicated learning and development team.

Starting with a number of free lectures and courses available through our YouTube channel and the Educational Materials section on our Careers website, Exactpro extended training opportunities to offer internships with possible employment. One of such courses was dedicated to preparation for the ISTQB® Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL) exam. The very first intake of the training has shown its relevance, as 450 people signed up to participate.

We decided to make this course accredited, which required additional preparation: aligning the structure of the training materials with the ISTQB Syllabus, ensuring coverage of the glossary terms, and, of course, inviting ISTQB-certified instructors experienced in software testing. The decision was made not only because we aimed at the best educational practices, but also because of the gap between the demand for expert trainers and the actual number of such experts. GeoSTQB established the process of the training center’s accreditation in cooperation with the GASQ from the fall of 2021, and the course became the only accredited one on the local market. Overall, since demand has increased from the business and individuals side, various training centers started offering software testing trainings as well.

Bringing software testing to emerging tech talent

Providing accredited courses for those interested is one thing, but we wanted to go bigger. Laser-focused on continuous learning, Exactpro has always been engaged in establishing connections with educational institutions. Even before entering the Georgian market, the company would arrange talks, meetings and webinars for the university students who were pursuing IT studies. Back in 2018, Georgian universities hardly recognized the need to teach about software testing, partially due to lack of information, but mostly, because it was hard to find senior specialists with both proper experience and a desire to teach.

Exactpro and GeoSTQB started actively working with Georgian universities. We held meetings, participated and arranged job fairs, and offered students internship programs. But going further, GeoSTQB suggested to include the ISTQB Foundation Level Syllabus into their teaching programs and gave recommendations for the lecturers with proper experience and knowledge and, most importantly, willingness to teach.

As a result, a number of fruitful collaborations have been established between the industry and the local universities. To name a few, when Ilia State University launched their DevOps program, experts from GeoSTQB were chosen to teach software testing as a subject within the program's curriculum. Another step in this direction is our community’s participation in the project “500 women in tech” [4], coordinated by Business and Technology University (BTU), with the support of UN Women and the Government of Norway. Exactpro and GeoSTQB provided not only internship opportunities, but lecturers who are field experts. This program later evolved into “1500 women in tech” [5], which Exactpro supported through lecturing and mentorship.

To this day, we are actively working with universities and students alike. Our internship program enables students to not only learn by actual practical experience, but also potentially get hired. Discovering and raising new tech talents is a job that requires constant involvement from our side and Exactpro is glad to do it. The process is no one-man-job, so we have close connections with different tech companies that have similar goals and take active participation in the respective initiatives.


Scaling the success

One of the first steps towards popularization of software testing was creating a community. GeoSTQB started with its members. We arranged and participated in various activities in order to make ourselves and software testing better known. Slowly but surely, we have managed to raise interest within different fields.

One of the main ways to raise awareness and increase the popularity of software testing was arranging meetups. We held our first one in February 2020. As the goal was to raise awareness, this meetup was dedicated to providing general information on software testing, importance of the profession, and the prospects of it.

The GeoSTQB community started to grow and, at the moment, it includes around 4,000 people on the LinkedIn and Facebook platforms. Those are people already working in the field and the ones who got interested in software testing. One of the important things is that potential employers and IT recruiters are also part of our community, playing an important role in discovering the tech talent and making educational opportunities provided by the board applied and trusted on the local market.

The board grew with the community and gained experience. In 2020, with Exactpro’s and other partners’ support, GeoSTQB established a tradition of celebrating the International Software Tester’s Day in Georgia. We started with one-day celebrations and scaled up to a two-day event in 2023, with international speakers, technical workshops, job fairs, and training sessions. In comparison to the first meetup attended by about 100 people, the 2023 edition was much bigger, hosting 300+ participants, with six major IT sponsors and three partnering companies.

Aiming for greater impact

From the very beginning, Exactpro and GeoSTQB have been sharing many goals. However, the pillar for all those goals is education. Education is the strongest foundation for having an accomplished community of professionals. Also, by being on the frontlines of the educational activities, we can have a great impact on the whole landscape of the IT field in Georgia. Throughout the years, there were many projects and activities that we are proud to be part of. Here’s a short list of the most memorable ones, where Exactpro and GeoSTQB were actively involved.

  • Georgian Innovations & Technology Agency (GITA) [6]: The Georgian Innovation Technology Agency announced one of the global educational programs “Educate 3,000 Specialists in ICT” financed by the World Bank in 2021. In collaboration with GeoSTQB, they added software testing into their program. As a result, about 200 beneficiaries got the opportunity to learn the material of the ISTQB CTFL and Test Automation Engineer Syllabuses and take ISTQB certification exams free of charge. The success of the program led to the launch of new initiatives later in 2023.
  • Do IT in Georgia: the new project [7] by GITA and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is one of the biggest initiatives in 2023. The project aims to foster innovation and employment growth in Georgia's IT sector. The initiative, supported by the European Union (EU), aims to train over 1,300 Georgian citizens in the world's most demanding professions, including cybersecurity, data science, cloud services, and more. As an international company, Exactpro is one of the first companies that got involved in “Do IT with EU” – one of the directions the program covers. It involves other international companies and aims to provide both education and internship and employment opportunities for the participants.
  • UN Women Georgia: A non-governmental organization that aims to empower women in pursuing careers, including those in IT. In collaboration with the Norwegian Government “500 Women in Tech” was launched. The primary objective of the “500 Women in Tech” initiative was to strengthen the role of women in technology by providing them with opportunities for retraining and upskilling. 500 beneficiaries should have been selected from every region of Georgia, but the project generated such an unprecedented interest that the number of participants eventually grew to almost 1,000. GeoSTQB trained the beneficiaries – women from different regions who were interested in the profession – and Exactpro provided internship opportunities.
  • USAID & Institutional and Capacity Development Center (ICDC): with the grant from USAID and coordination from ICDC, the Economic Security Program [8] aimed at providing internship and on-the-job learning opportunities in cooperation with the private sector. Exactpro was among the program’s partners and provided internship and employment opportunities for the beneficiaries. [9]
  • Coding School for 1500 women: the project was a continuation of “500 women in tech”. The goal was the same – retraining and upskilling women from all around Georgia, who were interested in pursuing an IT career. The project was launched in collaboration with USAID and BTU. Exactpro actively participated by providing lectures and internship opportunities.
  • GeoSTQB has collaborated with various communities. With the main goals to raise awareness and promote the software testing, the board conducted webinars and workshops and participated in different events. One of such events was in collaboration with Taso Foundation (TF) [10] we organized a webinar for women. The webinar was dedicated to software testing, its importance and role in software development.
  • Exactpro has always been involved in educational activities. One of the biggest achievements in this direction is ISTQB training. We have created a number of lectures on the subject of ISTQB certification and software testing in general. On our YouTube channel [11], you can find lectures and recap videos about ISTQB Syllabus, current trends in certification as well as in the industry. These resources are available free of charge for everyone interested. We fulfill our mission of popularizing software testing by taking part in numerous activities that aim to educate tech talents and give back to the tech community. IT is a field where you need to learn constantly, but with our 15-year experience in software testing, we are confident that sharing our experience will be valuable. By doing so we also get the benefit of meeting new talent, exchanging experience, and creating impact in empowering many people.

Reaping the results: Understanding the impact

Market demand nowadays counts around 10-15 specialists per month. This demand was non-existent previously as the companies would rather combine testing with other positions (mostly developers’ ones). In 2022, the demand rose up to 15-20 specialists per year. As the number of training, and, in general, availability of the education has increased, so did the number of junior- and middle-level specialists. However, at this point, companies are likely to be looking for senior specialists, rather than junior or middle.

The demand from the IT community on taking ISTQB exams has changed as well. In 2020, when the local market was still alien to software testing, only 8 people had attempted to take the ISTQB CTFL exam. The results were promising though as 7 of them received their certificate. This number has increased to 40+ in 2021 and 120 in 2022, with more than half having been successful in obtaining the certificate. In 2023, we saw a slight decline in the number of people who took the exam with only 74 attempts, however, 62 of them (84%) have passed, so we can definitely state a stronger professional focus of the applicants as well as a dramatic improvement in their preparation levels.

In the last year, the number of requests to take exams not only on foundation level, but other levels as well, has risen. This means that the demand has increased not only from the individuals, but also from the companies that want to hire certified staff. The companies have also started implementing benefit programs to promote certification. This approach has been part of Exactpro’s corporate culture for years now.

Universities have added software testing as a subject, either based on the ISTQB Syllabus or as a new discipline in their IT-focused programs. The majority of the subjects are elective, however, the interest among the students is there.

Since demand has increased all over the country, several tech-oriented training centers and companies started to have educational programs in the software testing field as well. The number of training providers varies from 6 to 8 at a time. The majority of training centers aim to provide internship and potential employment opportunities, so they are closely working with IT companies.

Based on our annual surveys, the majority of specialists – 61 to 66% depending on the year – seems to be women. Another interesting fact is that men are more likely to work in automation and women in manual testing. There’s a positive rise in the salary ranges as well. In comparison to 2022, we saw an average of a 28.8% rise in 2023 (the number varies based on the positions).

The community created and nurtured by GeoSTQB currently counts nearly 4000 users. This has created an impact and now we see that smaller, more narrowly focused communities emerge.

The annual celebration of the International Testers Day [12][13] has gained huge interest, not only among the field specialists, but also among major companies and training centers. Companies have become eager to become sponsors of the event, training centers gladly participate and directly share their services, and the people – specialists and those interested in the field alike – are gladly attending the gatherings.

While there was no accredited course on the local market, Exactpro was the first to launch the free accredited course and support motivated specialists to learn, prepare, and take the CTFL exam. After launching the ISTQB course, we have educated 383 people during our 3 intakes. Many of those who completed the course went further and got their ISTQB CTFL certificates.


The way so far has been very eventful and challenging. Exactpro and GeoSTQB shared the same goals and have worked hard to achieve them. We wanted to emphasize that software testing is a very important career path and that obtaining proper education and training is one of the keys of becoming professional in it. We can confidently say that the key to our collaborative success was our approach – we have targeted multiple areas from the very beginning. By taking one step at a time, we have attracted young people into the profession and senior specialists to teach and mentor them.

Now that the community has gained experience and grown, we face new challenges. With the industry having matured and AI gaining traction in all the areas of IT, more advanced skills are required from software testers and we, as a community, should not fall behind. Exactpro has already started implementing AI in software testing, while GeoSTQB continues to evolve in step with industry trends: the board launched its own blog about the latest trends in tech and software testing and announced the plans for podcasts that will engage more people from the community. Another ambition is to start educating not only university students and graduates, but also school students as well.

As we grow, so does our ambition to be at the top of our field, and the constantly developing IT industry demands constant growth from us. However, looking at what we – Exactpro and GeoSTQB – have managed to achieve so far, gives us confidence that we are up to the challenges and on a great path to achieving the best results together.