It’s vital the next generation of workers are given skills provided by colleges to help Tees Valley businesses thrive, says Mayor Ben Houchen.

He is backing Colleges Week and has met with principals of Tees Valley colleges to lend his support.

The main aim of Colleges Week – which runs until Friday, October 19 – is to highlight the good work the nation’s colleges do and the Mayor was keen to underline the importance of the Tees Valley colleges.

Mayor Houchen said: “My main priority is to help deliver high-quality jobs for local people in the Tees Valley, to boost our economy and help our residents and area to thrive.

“It’s vital that our young people are given the skills they need to fill those roles and succeed in the jobs of tomorrow across our key sectors.”

Mayor Houchen highlighted that the Tees Valley Combined Authority will be taking the reins of the post-19 education budget next year – to the tune of £30million.

He said: “The Tees Valley is very lucky to have five fantastic further education colleges as well as The Northern School of Art.

“As we take control of our area’s £30million post-19 education budget next year, I look forward to working even more closely with our colleges to ensure our students are being taught the skills our businesses desperately need.”

Mayor Houchen joined principals from colleges across the area at Middlesbrough College on Tuesday. The principals included Darren Hankey, principal and chief executive at Hartlepool College of Further Education, Kate Roe, principal and chief executive at Darlington College, Zoe Lewis principal and chief executive at Middlesbrough College, Phil Cook principal and chief executive at Stockton Riverside College and Redcar and Cleveland College and Martin Raby, principal and chief executive at The Northern School of Art.

Speaking on behalf of the colleges, Kate Roe, principal at Darlington College, said: “As well as playing a key role in the area’s economy, the Tees Valley colleges also play a key social and civic role in their respective towns.

“Most are centrally located and offer courses for a wide variety of people including school-leavers, adult learners, apprentices and those following higher education programmes.

“Colleges are the lifeblood of their communities and a key aim of Colleges Week is to get this message across.”

For more information on Colleges Week and the many activities taking place at colleges throughout the country, go to the Colleges Week website at https://www.collegesweek.co.uk