We are one month closer to the opening of our new campus in Kilmarnock. As we continue our countdown it’s time to turn the spotlight on another curriculum area.
This month we take a look at the Motor Vehicle department and speak to the Curriculum Manager, David Middleton. David gave us an insight into the department, explained the importance of modern apprentices, and looked ahead to what the new campus will offer to his students.
Tell us about the Motor Vehicle department at Ayrshire College.
Our Motor Vehicle courses run at the Kilmarnock and Kilwinning campuses. We mostly run full-time courses for students with part-time courses available for modern apprentices. As well as covering light vehicles, students get the chance to work on heavy vehicles and buses.
Currently, there are 200 full-time students and 90 modern apprentices in our department.
One of our main aims when the students are with us is to change their preconception that after college most of them will go into work in technician roles. We want to get the message out that there a number of roles open to students in the industry, including: vehicle parts, vehicles sales, diagnostic specialists, customer facing roles.
A list of all Motor Vehicle related courses can be found here.
What initiatives are your team involved with?
There is an industry initiative to help students learn about electric vehicles and hybrid vehicle technology. Currently our students get to work on hybrid vehicle simulator boards.
Most of our courses are certified by the Institute of the Motor Industry. These qualifications are recognised internationally and past students have secured employment abroad in places as far as USA and New Zealand. It’s exciting for our students to experience such great opportunities.
Another new initiative for our motor vehicle students is learning how to use e-portfolios. This enables a quicker and more efficient method of communication for their work to be organised and submitted for assessment.
How important are modern apprentices to the department?
Modern apprentices are very important to the department. They help the College support independent dealerships across Ayrshire and beyond. It’s good for full-time students to see modern apprentices in class at the same time as them as it inspires them to secure an apprenticeship for themselves.
Over 20 full-time students secured direct modern apprentices in the motor industry in 2014/15.
What do you think makes the department so successful?
The commitment of staff contributes greatly to the overall success of the department. All of our lecturers have good industry backgrounds and maintain strong links within the industry which helps students with their learning and work placements.
Our staff also work well with colleagues across the College to support students. They work with the student services, funding and inclusive learning departments to offer support to students.
What skills are you looking for in your students?
We look for good employability skills in our students.
The main challenge we face in the motor vehicle industry is to encourage young adults at 16/17 years old to think about what sort of career they want to have, and ensure that once they have made this important decision that they are then able to stick with it for the next four years.
We work tirelessly with students, taking them from not being sure about what they want to do, to undertaking intensive training for four years and making them industry ready at the end of their college journey.
To see students evolve and develop throughout their time at Ayrshire College is very rewarding for lecturers.
What options are open to motor vehicle students once they have finished their courses?
We offer courses at different levels, meaning a progression route is open to students. Full-time students have an opportunity to progress to our modern apprenticeship courses. The apprentices then return to college on a day release basis to complete their qualification.
The majority of our modern apprentices secure employment once they complete their apprenticeship. Our students have many transferable skills which can allow them to branch off into different career routes.
How important is working with local employers to the department?
Local employers are very important as they support our work experience programme. Each year, 60 full-time students take part in a block of work experience.
We also help local employers to recruit by suggesting students who fit their job description to take part in a week-long trial to find out if they are right for the job.
It took a few years to build up and consolidate these partnerships which provide real benefits to students, the College and the employer.
What can students expect from the motor vehicle department at the new campus?
Students can expect modern workshops reflecting industry standards. It offers students a great chance to experience a realistic vision of their future career. It also offers students the challenge of keeping up-to-date with a change of pace in a new, modern environment.
It may be challenging but it is very exciting for our students as we countdown to the new campus.
What does the future hold for the motor vehicle department at Ayrshire College?
We will continue our great work with local employers and as a team use our skills to help propel our students into a future career in motor vehicle. We will keep up-to-date with industry technology and also keep our finger on the pulse of several industry debates which are currently taking place, including the ‘Should mechanics have a licence?’ debate.
Overall, we will continue to offer a first-class service to students, staff and local employers across Ayrshire.
For all the latest information on our new campus development in Kilmarnock click here.