children learning to use computer with parent

Fire Tech founder, Jill Hodges, a tech education pioneer, is on a mission to fill the digital skills and education gap here in the UK and around the world by teaching children and teens – and especially girls – to get creative with tech outside of school.

Digital skills are no longer the realm of geeky kids (and adults) but necessary to function in everyday life and relevant to everyone. Smart fridges are analysing what we eat, alarm clocks are syncing with traffic apps and wristbands are monitoring our health. And because tech is powering everything we do, across all careers and many hobbies, we have a responsibility, to all our children and young people, to help them be as prepared as they can be for the world that awaits them.

The World Economic Forum estimates that 65% of the children who are in primary school today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist. The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) is upon us and the speed, breadth and depth of transformation, across every area of our lives, is unprecedented. It is disrupting almost every industry in every country and transforming not only how we work and develop our careers but how we consume; how we spend our leisure time; and how we meet people and develop relationships.

The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unparalleled processing power, storage capacity and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will only be multiplied by emerging technology in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented and virtual reality and 3D printing.

Turning passive tech consumers into creative tech users

In the midst of this revolution, the most immediate and urgent problem we face, is the massive education gap between the digital skills kids are being taught in schools and the skills they will need – not only to forge successful careers but also to ensure they are active and creative tech users rather than passive tech consumers. Tech is changing so fast that everyone is struggling to keep up. There’s no way schools can do this alone.

This is where companies like Fire Tech come in. Governments around the world are looking for specialists who can teach tech skills to young people outside of school to help prepare them for the future. So far, we have supported the teaching of in-demand 4IR skills to kids in Gibraltar, Australia, France, Poland and the Caribbean, and next month we are flying 30 of our tutors to the Middle East to support a government future skills for youth programme. Charities and public sector bodies are realising that it’s possible to get young people excited about innovation by teaching them to create and problem-solve with tech.

Girls need a friendly space to give tech a try

The other issue we need to get creative about is how we enthuse and encourage girls to stay interested in STEM subjects. Girls are just as good at science, maths and technology as boys, but many of them need the the right motivation and a friendly space to give it a try. As a start, we need to challenge the misconception that creativity and technology are mutually exclusive. Every aspect of STEM subjects demands creativity and design. If we can show young women how tech skills work in the service of their creativity – whether that’s solving a social problem with an app or creating their own YouTube channel to amplify their voice on a topic they care about – they’re more likely to want to advance those skills. Creating collaborative communities where girls meet other young people who share their interests and work together on projects creates a social environment that is engaging and fun to be a part of.

Not every student needs to become a programmer but every student needs to understand computational thinking, and to be at ease using the tools that will empower them to create, communicate and problem-solve. And those are the tech skills that are most vital for the next generation because those are the skills that will allow them to be better photographers, more informed doctors, deeper researchers, more creative stylists, broader communicators, stronger analysts, creative problem-solvers and brilliant entrepreneurs.

Fire Tech is running over 100 school holiday day and residential tech camps for 9-17 year olds this summer in London, Sussex, Buckinghamshire, Reading, Surrey, Bristol, Cambridge and Manchester. Visit