In less than a year Britain will leave the European Union. Decisions made in parliament over the next few months will have an impact on the young people of Bridlington for decades to come. But what will it actually mean for young people, businesses and the future of Bridlington?
I can only speak from an education and skills standpoint, and offer no political view, only a view of the possible impact of the policies being formulated on our students’ futures.
There is, of course, much uncertainty. Nevertheless, the country is forecast to face a significant skills shortage. Our schools and training providers will also lose funding sources such as the European Social Fund.
However, the increasing deficit of skills across the UK is possibly the most significant threat facing the economy.
Economic growth has in part been reliant on the contribution of economic migrants and, as their departure becomes inevitable, the need to replace them will be felt in industry.
There are already notable shortages reported nationally in construction, engineering, IT, and health and care.
However, I do have optimism for the future. The further education sector, of which the college is the main representative in Bridlington, is nothing if not resilient.
One only has to look at the Bridlington Medical, Health and Social Care Academy for an example of an innovative and forward-thinking approach to addressing skills shortages in the region.
The Academy is a partnership between the college and Headlands School and a variety of health care providers in the sector, including the NHS, GP surgeries and University of Hull.
These organisations are working together to provide mentoring and additional training opportunities to those preparing to enter the health and care sector, to provide clear pathways to university or employment and encourage home-grown talent to stay in the region.
Another example of future-proofing the skills students will acquire whilst at the college comes in the form of the Bridlington Mechatronics Centre.
Mechatronics is the use of robotics in engineering.
What future engineering roles will have in common will be the need for an understanding of programming and the use of computers to control machines.
Advances on the shop floor mean the ‘oily rag’ engineering trades will in a lot of cases be overtaken by the digital revolution, and partnerships such as the HEAD into Engineering programme between Headlands School, East Riding College, Derwent Training and AB Graphics have been formed to make sure Bridlington’s engineers of the future are ready to grasp the opportunity.
These and other forward-thinking approaches mean we already find ourselves in a good position to address future skills gaps in the region, but we are not complacent.
Post-Brexit Bridlington has the potential to deliver a better future for our community if we build on existing best-practice and work together.
East Riding College will continue to help transform the lives of our students, as we always have, living our values of ambition, enterprise and resilience.