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Business & Economy

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen visits Hartlepool Sixth Form

A-Level students were given the opportunity to meet Ben Houchen during the Tees Valley Mayor’s recent visit to Hartlepool Sixth Form.

Teesside-born Ben, who became the first directly elected Mayor of the Tees Valley in 2017, was invited on campus to meet students and staff, and find out more about the sixth form’s success as one of the top-ranked in the country and its specialist careers-led curriculum.

The qualified solicitor answered questions from students and spoke about how it is an exciting time to be living and working in the Tees Valley and how the region is leading the way in economic regeneration through developments such as Darlington Railway Station, the UK’s largest freeport at Teesworks and the former SSI Steelworks site, as well as projects such as Net Zero Teesside and tech of the future.

Ben also discussed his career before entering politics, from working in commercial litigation and employment law to founding BLK UK, an international sportswear business which supplies clothing to amateur and professional clubs.

He said: “I was delighted to speak to the ambitious students at Hartlepool Sixth Form, share my experiences and fielding questions on all of the exciting things we’re driving forward in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool right now.

“With the huge progress we’re making in securing investments and good-quality, well paid jobs young people across our region no longer have to go to big cities like Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester or London to get ahead and forge a rewarding career.

“Securing the Government’s Darlington Economic Campus, which will be home to over 1,700 senior civil servants from key government departments including the Treasury, the Department of International Trade, the business department and the Department for Levelling up, means these students will soon be able to have a career at the heart of government without having to leave the place they love and call home.

“We are also seeing huge growth in our brilliant local law firms as well as the wider professional services sector, and as we continue to secure investment at Teesworks, capitalise on low carbon innovation right across the region, grow our digital offering and much more, there’s huge potential in the cleaner, safer and healthier industries of tomorrow for generations to come.”

Ben also met with Campus Principal Jane Reed and members of the sixth form’s leadership team who outlined several ambitious plans including focusing on higher level skills development, the new T Levels in Adult Nursing, Education and Childcare and Laboratory Science, and future investments in engineering and digital facilities.

Politics, English Literature and Music student, Emma Crue, who hopes to progress to a Journalism degree, added: “I enjoyed meeting Ben at our sixth form today. As a politics student, it was very interesting to speak to someone high profile involved in local politics.”

Jane Reed, Campus Principal at the sixth form, added: “We would like to offer a huge thank you to Ben for taking time to visit the sixth form and meet our students.

“Our career-focused and future-ready curriculum ensures our students have the very best start to succeed in their chosen careers and they were inspired hearing about the fantastic opportunities that are available to them in industries such as biologics, engineering, chemical engineering, renewable and sustainable energy and the digital sector right here on their doorstep.”