THE Festival of Ingenuity is a fun event with a serious message. It aims to celebrate the creative heritage of Darlington at the same time as inspiring a new generation of scientists, engineers and innovators.

In the competitive market for summer events, the festival offers something different. The question remains though, if young people are enthused enough to follow a career in one of these fields, are the opportunities available for them in the North-East? Positive steps have been taken in recent years to address the region’s skills shortages.

The Tees Valley Combined Authority has this summer agreed the devolution of £30.5m a year in government funding for adult education with the aim of nurturing home grown talent and providing skills training. Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen is pushing for control of the 16-18 education budget for similar reasons.

Today we report on plans for a new skills academy in County Durham for young people who are not flourishing in mainstream education. Durham Gateway Academy on Aycliffe Business Park would combine academic and vocational learning in subjects like engineering and construction with social, life and employability skills.

Policies and projects like these are exactly what’s needed to create a more skilled workforce. And with events like the Festival of Ingenuity to do the inspiring, there is hope for future generations to build on the foundations being laid today.