Fire Tech is the UK's number 1 provider of tech camps and courses for 9- to 17-year-olds.
What does your organisation do?
Fire Tech are the UK's leading provider of out-of-school tech clubs and holiday camps and in-school workshops for 9-17 year olds. We've delivered over 8,000 courses teaching young people how to learn the latest technologies shaping their world. Our courses cover coding and robotics, video game design, AR and VR, as well as creating for YouTube, digital photography, digital music production. Fire Tech inspires young people to go from passive tech consumers to active tech creators and take advantage of the tech world we live in.
What do you think is currently the biggest issue facing the digital and tech industry?
We constantly hear that there is a digital skills gap. It's said that 65% of children in primary school today will work in jobs that don't yet exist. Parents know that their children need these skills but they don't know where to go. Schools are overwhelmed and it's impossible for them to keep up with the changes. Another issue is that many of the government initiatives to encourage tech skills start at age 16. We believe we need to engage with children from a younger age. At our camps we see children as young as nine come alive when they realise they can programme computer games, engineer robots, and create objects that interact with the world around them.
What is your organisation's biggest achievement?
Our growth. I (Jill Hodges, pictured) started Fire Tech on my kitchen table because I was concerned my own children weren't learning the skills they needed to thrive in the world they were growing into. Now Fire Tech is in seven UK locations, Australia, France and Poland. We've been invited to deliver our programmes in Gibraltar, Antigua and the Middle East. There's currently more demand than we can supply and I'm proud of bringing this concept to the UK market.
What would you consider to be your organisation's biggest challenge?
We want to work with government and local schools to help empower young people to create with technology. However, there is a lot of reluctance to change a system that has existed for decades. We want schools to see Fire Tech as someone they can partner with. We want to come to your child's school and deliver a workshop to their classmates. But we need you to help spread the word.
What do you think the future looks like for Manchester's digital and tech sector?
Manchester is an important market for tech. We speak to many young and incredibly eager campers in Manchester who want to go on and become tech entrepreneurs or engineers which is great. I think the the biggest problem facing Manchester, and all markets in the UK, is diversity in the tech sector. We need more girls and people from minority backgrounds who feel that they can be part of this incredible change, in order for us to create the best possible solutions and companies. I believe we need to find ways to engage children from a young age and that’s one of the reasons I created Fire Tech.
Tell us something we might not know about your company?
How we handpick our tutors from leading UK universities. One of the top reasons children come back to our camps again and again is because of specialist and inspirational tutors. Each tutor is handpicked by our team based on their knowledge and their passion to teach. They often come from leading universities like University of Manchester and London’s Imperial College.
Digital fun for ages 9-17 - coding, game design, VR and more! Join Fire Tech at Manchester University, 23rd July - 17th August (Click here to find out more.) As a special offer to our subscribers, you can get £20 off Fire Tech's courses in Manchester this summer if you use the promo code MCRDIGITAL at check-out.