Brexit could be ‘devastating’ for Hartlepool’s young people, warns college chief

Darren Hankey, principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education.
Darren Hankey, principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education.

The effects of the Brexit vote could be ‘devastating’ for the young people of Hartlepool, claims a college leader.

While the country is in turmoil following the vote to leave the European Union, college boss Darren Hankey has spoken of his fears for the future of teenagers in the town if political uncertainty continues.

Mr Hankey, principal at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said the consequences are likely to be ‘far reaching and devastating’ for both the young people in Hartlepool and the town’s economy.

He said in the past six years the college has seen its budget cut by 25% and fears it could not withstand anymore.

Mr Hankey said: “It’s clear to see that this decision is going to have an impact on the North East economy.”

The college boss went on to say that almost 60% percent of all North Eastern trade is with the EU compared to 40% for London.

He said: “The future is uncertain and it’s this uncertainty that is the problem. The uncertainty is likely to lead to volatility and potentially witness a dip in the economic performance of the country.

“This could lead to less tax receipts and, ultimately, less money for the Government to spend on key services such as education and skills.”

Mr Hankey said Nick Boles, the current Skills Minister, has stated that Brexit is likely to have an impact on the Government’s plans to introduce an apprenticeship levy. Furthermore, additional cuts to education for school-leavers, adults looking to re-skill, and for those with special education needs are likely.

He said: “Ultimately, this will have an adverse effect on colleges such as Hartlepool College of Further Education. The college has done well in recent years - the success rate of our apprentices is the second highest in England. However, since 2010, the college’s income has reduced by nearly 25% and further cuts will be neither welcome or sustainable. Brexit is likely to have a profound effect on the college and the education for young people and adult learners in the town.

“The UK and the North East have done well to overcome the problems and issues posed by the banking crises, and subsequent recession. A key aspect of this was clarity and clear political leadership, and this is what is needed now – clarity and not uncertainty.

“If this is not explicit, the unintended consequences are likely to be far-reaching and devastating for Hartlepool’s young people and for the economy of the town.”