TECHNOLOGY companies have backed a drive to help children from low income families gain future skills for success.

BrightSparks, a scheme that gives youngster from some of Brighton’s most vulnerable families 12 months of technology mentorship, has received new backing from the city’s top ten tech firms.

The programme was devised by MakerClub, a Brighton-based provider of invention and design workshops for young people, as a way of closing the digital skills gap.

The programme takes place at Barclays EagleLabs, a co-working hub in London Road with design and manufacturing facilities such as laser cutters and 3D printers.

The children are taught weekly, through a wide range of projects ranging from robot building to “real world” briefs submitted by the supporting companies.

Participating organisations include Propellernet, Madgex, i-crossing, Ribot, Gene, DabApps, Plus Accounting, ClearLeft, FuturLab and Pragmatic. Together they employ more than 500 staff including some of Brighton’s most talented designers and programmers.

Each company has paid all the costs for one child to go through the scheme.

MakerClub will also be providing training for any participating company staff who wish to volunteer time to pass on their digital skills to children in the scheme.

Applicants to BrightSparks must be aged eight to 13 and be on free school meals or have a combined household income of under £25,000.

MakerClub director and BrightSparks lead Declan Cassidy said: “As the world becomes increasingly automated, children need to not just be learning code but a wide range of future skills, like design, prototyping and creative problem solving.

“This programme connects the dots between young people in most need and the local digital economy.

“In a few short years time, these children will be the next generation of designers, creatives and developers that Brighton needs to thrive. “

He said if successful, this pilot programme could be rolled out nationwide, providing vocational education for more than 2,500 children by next year.