Aston University hosts Birmingham holiday programme to inspire young people’s digital ambitions

•   Digital Tycoons is a three-day programme on which young people form their own social action company based on local priorities
•    It was delivered as part of the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, supported by Aspire2Be, Digit <all> charities and Amazon Web Services
•    Local partners included the Blesst Centre, Phoenix, The QK Project, Pitch 2 Progress, Law Leisure and Learning and Aston University. 

Thirty young people from secondary schools across the city have attended aspiration days hosted by Aston University as part of the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme.

Known locally as ‘Bring it on Brum’, the Birmingham City Council programmes are designed to excite and inspire young people about the opportunities available to them to continue their learning in the future and encourage them to set their sights and ambitions high.

Coordinated and delivered by StreetGames, Bring it on Brum is the largest holiday activity and food programme in the country.

The HAF programme, which is funded by the Department for Education, aims to provide Free School Meal children with the opportunity to take part in activities and to receive a nutritious meal, all free of charge in a safe environment.

At Aston University, a group of 30 young people aged 11 to 16 took part in ‘Digital Tycoons’, a blended in-person and online three-day programme to develop their digital and entrepreneurial skills.

Working with industry leaders in the charity and business sectors, participants received guidance and support through a website, app and webinar series hosted on a bespoke learning platform. They additionally received an inspirational key presentation from Prerana Sharma, an industry specialist manager from Amazon Web Services.

Using the digital skills they developed, learners were asked to design and manage their own social action company focused on local community priorities. A further programme is planned for summer 2023 and beyond.

By partnering with Aston University, the programme has the additional benefit of giving the young people the chance to learn more about higher education and the opportunities they might want to pursue in the future.

William (age 11), a student participant from the BLESST Centre, said:
“Taking a business course in a university setting has inspired many young minds to create, learn and share different ideas. Many of us have enjoyed the classes over the past two days, and it has been an interesting learning experience for most of us. Starting a business may seem hard, yes, it is, and although you may not have enough to start it, this course has given us a starting point for our future goals.”

Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Aston University, said:

“Aston University aims to support socio-economic transformations in our city and region. As a deeply civic university, we take great pride in being ranked among the top UK universities for social mobility. The development of digital and entrepreneurial skills in the broader community and inspiring the next generation of leaders is central to our strategy.

“In line with our strategy and civic role, we are delighted to welcome the HAF Digital Tycoon programme to Aston University and work with the young people from our region on this important agenda.”

Derek Peaple, School Lead for Bring it on Brum, and who designed the programme, said:

“The Bring it on Brum team is enormously grateful to Aston University for supporting this  unique and inspiring opportunity for the city’s students to develop and apply their digital employability skills. Aston University’s position as one the world’s leading universities in these critical areas of future work and research has offered the young people a wonderfully aspirational environment in which to learn together.”

Jen Carter, Director of Holiday Gap, StreetGames, said:

“We’re proud of the work Bring it on Brum is doing to provide safe, fun activities and nutritious food to children and young people during the school holidays. But it is just as important to feed young people’s ambition and give them the chance to learn new things and gain new experiences. We hope these aspiration days will give young people a useful glimpse into the world of higher education, and fresh ideas about what they might want to do in the future.”

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