Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, was visiting teenagers taking part in the National Citizen Service programme in Redcar.
They have signed up for the whole summer holiday to gain new experiences.
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A decision will be announced on the fate of three GP surgeries in Hartlepool later.
The UK only managed to rank 20th on the World Economic Forum's (WEF) index of nations - a slide from 9th position in 2006.
"Last season is fading from view in the rear-view mirror with bright skies ahead for the rest of the season."