Mandy Exley with other delegates in Kuwait: Learning in partnership for skills development
Mandy Exley, Principal at Edinburgh College, blogs about taking part in a recent British Council event on best practice in International Skills Partnerships and finds that learning from different cultures leads to many benefits for higher education professionals and in turn for their students.
A warm welcome and smooth passage through Kuwait City airport on Sunday evening was a great start to Bringing the Learning Home, an event hosted by the British Council on best practice in International Skills Partnerships.
This was to be my first time participating in a British Council partnerships event in my new role as Principal of Edinburgh College, and I was eager to meet my colleague Dr Naji al Mahdi from Edinburgh’s partner institution, the National Institution for Vocational Education, United Arab Emirates.
The highlight was being nominated for the International Skills Partnership award. Our partnership has led to a more effective understanding of how entrepreneurship can be embedded into curriculum activities and, across different cultures, demonstrated that young people with enterprising and entrepreneurial spirit can cross cultural boundaries with ease and learn from each other. Faculty and students have benefited and our understanding of each other’s economies, both social and fiscal, has increased dramatically.
All of this will enable us to make our project sustainable moving forward and to consider the role of pan-national Enterprise Interns, incubator units for business start-up and embedding further the learning across a broader range of curriculum in both of our institutions. This project has enabled our students to see the world of work through a different, cross-cultural lens.
A session considering the soft skills requirements of industry brought me into contact with senior professionals from the banking sector who demonstrated a real commitment to supporting young people getting the right skills for the right job and we all learnt that more listening to industry (and also more challenge of them) could result in new products and new approaches.
A day of meetings with colleagues from the Public Authority for Applied Education, the University of Kuwait and some recruitment consultants left us ready for home but sad to say goodbye to so many talented people.
Opportunities abound for further partnerships and the British Council’s listening ear means that we will have many opportunities to be supported into the future.