West Lothian College Students take part in International project in Malaysia

A group of four HND Engineering students from West Lothian College have returned from a trip to Malaysia after taking part in the British Council’s Skills for Employability programme.

The British Council’s Skills for Employability programme enables young people to gain direct access to industry training and future employment opportunities.

The scheme focusses on improving student experiences by combining college curriculum with industry training.

Part of an International Skills Partnership, the project was funded and supported by both the British Council (UK) and the Economic Planning Unit (Malaysia), and has seen a group of 8 West Lothian College students work with Mitsubishi on a project.

Following initial meetings with Mitsubishi, it was determined the 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.

Four of the eight students (Dinu Sirbu, Mohammad Bilal, Blazej Krol and John Kennedy) involved in the project, along with their lecturer Tomasz Sliwinski and Colin Miller (Head of External Engagement at West Lothian College) travelled to Malaysia to share their experience and showcase the outcomes and benefits to delegates from across Malaysia.

The staff and students were hosted by Ungku Omar Polytechnic in Ipoh, who were also part of the employability project. The polytechnic staff and students were wonderful and organised tours of their departments to meet other staff and students, and also hosted a cultural and technical tour of the District. The visits included trips to a rubber plantation and the site of an old tin mine. The showcase event that was attended by employers and other educational establishments was held at the Polytechnic, and this was a real highlight that had been organised by polytechnic staff and students. A huge thank you to the Polytechnic for hosting the College staff and students for two days. 

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.”

Dinu Sirbu, another student involved in the project echoed this by saying: “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.”

The College are exploring opportunities in Malaysia for future partnerships both in industry and education, and believe this project can be replicated for future cohorts of students with further employers.

Colin Miller Head of External Engagement at West Lothian College said: “The project has allowed the students to apply the theory they have learnt in the classroom and has allowed them to develop new skills; particularly those needed by industry and has improved their employability.

“It was fantastic to work with the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office in Malaysia to deliver this scheme and we have to thank them, the British Council and everyone else involved in the project for the great opportunity. 

 “It was interesting to observe that about 50% of the engineering students in Malaysia are female, which is something that we should aspire to in Scotland and the UK.

 We will look to implement everything we have learned here at the college and I’m sure the trip will prove to be a valuable learning experience for our students as they move forward in their engineering careers.”

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