Some general skills carry over very well. 99% of it comes down to the mindset.
My testing career started in electronics manufacturing. For most of the assemblies, there were only a few pre-determined tests that were run on them that were always black and white in regards to pass/fail. The only time that we were given the chance to be creative was with things like environmental stress tests.
In my experience, most people in that role want to get creative, and want more freedom to execute the tests that they think are valid, but can't always.
As for advice, first of all, unit test building is something for developers. Although a good tester should be able to help determine what those should be. Otherwise, have him/her (him for the rest of this answer) start doing some reading in some area's that interest him. From what the rest of your post says, it sounds like he's probably going to be more testing than straight quality assurance analysis, so, some of James Whittaker's books can be a great start, mainly Exploratory Software Testing and How to Break Software. He may also want to check out some blogs such as James Bach's blog or the RBCS blog. For more generic info, there's also places like this, or the Software Testing Club or even sqaforums. These of course, are just small example of some reading material.
For experience, there's software all over the place. Ask him to look at the software the same way that he'd look at any other product. See what he can find. There's open source projects that are looking for people to help test their products as well, and you don't already need to be a professional tester in order to help out.
Each person finds their own way to get into the profession, just like any other, but, maybe this could help lead to a decent start.