There are loads of articles on the importance to the economy in “filling the digital skills gap” and teaching coding. The implication here is that we need an army of programmers for the good of the country, working on new apps, data analyses and robots. But that’s only a tiny part of the story. A sliver, you might say. That’s the tech ‘vertical’.
We don’t disagree that tech specialists have an important role to play in the future, and that we as a country (along with most countries) struggle to bring those skills to young people and to inform them about those career paths – doubly true for girls. We hope that lots of our Fire Tech kids and teens find paths in engineering, data science and tech careers.
HOWEVER, and this is a huge however, we think that that tech vertical is a tiny part of how young people will use their skills and passion in technology. The lessons that our kids and teens learn in courses like ours will also allow them to be better photographers, more informed doctors, deeper researchers, more creative stylists, broader communicators, stronger analysts, creative problem solvers, and brilliant entrepreneurs.
The reality today is that tech skills are no longer limited to the tech vertical. Tech is horizontal and cuts across every career path, be it scientific, artistic, commercial or academic.
The students who come to Fire Tech are embracing what they already know – that tech solutions are going to fuel and accelerate their passions and their voices. Stanford University, leading the pack, has fully embraced tech as a horizontal, with more than half of both its female and male students taking its intro to Computer Science course (and you can follow it here). Its CS+X programmes encourage students studying any discipline – including humanities and arts – to add Computer Science as a complement to their studies. Surely where Stanford leads, other schools will follow!
Tech is not just for techies anymore. Take a look at the kids and teens in any of our camps and you’ll see diversity – of interests and backgrounds – with all of those students kindling their tech fires. We started Fire Tech so that families and young people could get access* to tech skills to serve their passions no matter what the subject, and have always included arts and making as part of our definition of tech. Thanks for being a part of our Fire Tech family and engaging with us as we help our young people be their best selves.
*Accessibility is a key value at Fire Tech, and that includes economic access. We are raising funds for more scholarships so that we can continue and expand our scholarship programme to further that accessibility. Get in touch if you would like more information about sponsoring scholarships through our Opportunity Fund.