West Lothian College (WLC) has achieved the Herald Higher Education Award for Excellent Employer Engagement in Colleges and the Scottish Training Foundation Success in Partnership Award for its work with Mitsubishi, as part of its International Skills Partnership with Malaysia. The partnership saw a group of eight WLC students work with Mitsubishi on a project - four of which were then given the opportunity to travel to Malaysia and present the outcomes of their project. 

The first award looked for evidence of an innovative approach to delivering employers’ workforce development needs, through forming partnerships and working with businesses to develop training processes which aid student employability, and also help develop students’ soft skills. It also recognised that the project offered real-life work experience to students, experience of running ‘live’ projects as well as allowing the college to shape, track and monitor the curriculum.

The second award aims to showcase the benefits of partnership activity – and how increased collaboration can produce positive, measurable and sustained outcomes for all parties involved.

“Malaysia has helped me to look at the world with different eyes. After the trip, I feel more confident, and motivated to finish my studies and get a job related to engineering. It was a great experience to meet the Malaysian students and to visit their College.”, Dinu Sirbu (student involved in the project)

The project itself was funded and supported by both the British Council (UK) and the Economic Planning Unit (Malaysia), and involved WLC partnering with the Malaysian Economic Planning Unit on an initiative designed so that partners could enhance vocational programmes and outcomes for students through curriculum development driven by closer collaboration with employers. As the third largest employer and the largest engineering employer in the West Lothian region – Mitsubishi were an excellent choice for partnership in this project engaging with WLC’s HND Engineering students. This partnership with Mitsubishi also gave learners direct access to, and experience of working within a large engineering organisation and potential future employer.

Our objective

WLC actively engages with employers and institutions both locally and internationally with the aim of creating opportunities for our learners to develop employability skills and engage with potential future employers during their time at college. The college is also committed to providing enriching and educational international opportunities for students to allow them to experience different cultures and broaden their horizons.

Our strategy

The employer, in this case Mitsubishi, played a crucial role within this project. They provided the learners with experience of working within industry and the opportunity to apply the theory learnt in the classroom to a real life work scenario. Mitsubishi also offered the College an employer’s perspective on the curriculum, offering guidance which formed part of a curriculum review to ensure the college’s qualifications are preparing graduates to meet the needs of industry.  

Following initial meetings with Mitsubishi, it was determined that WLC’s HND Engineering students could add real value to the organisation through the development of training manuals explaining production procedures and appropriate materials for the manufacturing of air-conditioning units as well as explaining the advantages and disadvantages of existing procedures. 

Our impact

This involved the eight students spending time within the Mitsubishi premises, observing the operations and learning in depth the current processes and materials to allow them to create training manuals and provide recommendations. This project benefited Mistubishi through having a new perspective from an outside source, looking at their procedures and combining theory with their experience in the factory.

All eight learners involved in the project enhanced their employability by working directly with a large employer within their industry of study – allowing them to fully understand the application of theory and to network with colleagues in what could be a future employer. 

Further to this, four of the eight learners were given the opportunity to travel to Malaysia and present the outcomes of the project. This broadened the learner’s horizons allowing them to experience other cultures and meet, learn from and compare experiences with engineering students from the other side of the world. 

Speaking of the experience, one of the students involved Mohammad Bilal said: “Going to Malaysia and delivering the project was an experience of a lifetime for me. This experience will add great value to my future job opportunities as well as my upcoming studies.”