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This International Women’s Day we celebrate women’s achievements and forging change. Student Tori-Leigh Adams describes how West Lothian College has put her on track to run her own business.

I started my journey at the college when I was just eleven years old. After primary school, my parents gave me an alternative option to secondary school to be home educated and take the lead of my own learning.

I started by completing some open learning course for the basic skills of English and Maths. From there, I began enrolling in the school partnership courses offered by the college and I completed a variety of courses such as Hospitality, Art and Design, Beauty Therapy and Motor Vehicle.

Tori-Leigh Adams, Light Vehicle Maintenance graduate and HNC BusinessBy the time I was old enough to apply for a full-time course at West Lothian College, I was certain that the motor vehicle industry was the path I wanted to follow, and I enrolled onto VRQ1 Light Vehicle Maintenance.

I had previously completed the school partnership motor vehicle course as I had begun racing cars with my dad and grandad and they told me: “If you want to race cars, you better learn to fix them when they break”. So that’s what I did! However, once I started the VRQ1 course my love for cars and motorsport grew bigger.

While completing the VRQ1 course at just 15/16 years old I was given an amazing opportunity through Erasmus Plus to travel to Sweden for two weeks to gain experience of working in the automotive industry in a different country. This provided me with a great understanding of how other countries run businesses differently to us here in Scotland and allowed me to pick up some things I could possibly use in my own business in the future.

In December 2020, while completing the VRQ2 qualification, I was awarded the Tam Dalyell STEM Scholarship at West Lothian College with a £500 prize that allowed me to purchase my first toolbox and a few other tools to assist with my learning and experience in the automotive industry.

And that brings us to the last year or so. I completed my VRQ3 qualification at West Lothian College in June last year and graduated last October. Throughout my last year on my automotive course I was provided with opportunities to complete the #FemaleBoss program which is run by Bridge2Business as my lecturers recognised my efforts in trying to gain the knowledge to start my own business.

I want to open my own business in the automotive industry. It will be aimed at people who do not have any knowledge or understanding of how vehicles work. I want my business to be a place where people can come to feel comfortable and be confident in the work they are being provided with. My business will be a MOT, Servicing and Repair station with the face of a female.

On completing the #FemaleBoss program I was awarded £2,000 towards starting my business, which has been a great help in allowing me to expand my business idea and has allowed me to go mobile while I continue to study at West Lothian College.

From there I was a finalist in the Bridge 2 Business Enterprise Awards 2022, gained further funding from First Port, and I am now working closely with the Prince’s Trust to gain more knowledge and help towards starting my business. I am currently studying HNC Business to expand my knowledge to allow me to proceed with my business plans.

I have developed a relationship with the Scottish Motor Trade Association and attended its Females in Focus event last August. I was nominated for their skills award at their annual dinner in Glasgow last October. I featured in the association’s Auto Insight magazine and you can read more about how I am challenging gender imbalance in my industry on pages 10 and 22.

My plans now are to continue to gain the knowledge and experience I need, continue networking and learning as much as I can to open up my own business in the next five years – a business which has been pushed, influenced and motivated by the help of everyone at West Lothian College.