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20 May 2024

Cycling UK has launched the Inclusive Cycling Experience, a new programme funded by the Motability Foundation, to support disabled communities in Greater Manchester and Inverness to start...

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ACT member Balfe’s Bikes begins rolling out Cytech Apprenticeships across its stores.

Posted on in Business News , Cycles News

ACT member Balfe’s Bikes has begun its plan to introduce Cytech apprentices to its stores and upskill existing staff through the Cytech training programme.

Balf's mechanic

Luke Simpson recently joined the company’s Kingston Store as a Cytech apprentice through Activate Learning, which Dave Maynard, Area Manager for Balfe’s Bikes, says is already having a positive impact. He says that will introduce new apprentices into its busiest stores first; stores which have the size, but which may also have had a challenge recruiting mechanics up until now.

“It is great for us to have Luke as we had been struggling to find good mechanics for our Kingston store. This has enabled us to get someone in, help develop them, and get them quickly up to speed,” Dave says.

“We saw an opportunity whilst we were looking at upskilling all our colleagues through the Cytech scheme to also do the Apprenticeship Scheme. We will be introducing this over this coming winter to most of our stores, so that when we go into summer next year, with colleagues already developing their skills.

Not only is it fundamental to the service we provide for our customers, it also gives people who don’t have any experience but want to get into the industry a path that they can follow.”

Separately, though, the company is planning to elevate the skill level across it its estate, as Dave explains:

“We decided very early in the year to identify all the mechanics in all our stores, finding that maybe only ten were Cytech-trained. So, we have made it our mission to get all our mechanics trained up to Cytech Level Two and those that already are at that level, to get them up to Cytech Level Three. We also are developing our shop floor team to have at least a minimum of Cytech Level One and move them up to Cytech Level Two in the longer term.”

“We think it’s fantastic that Balfe’s are investing in getting all staff theory one trained, including their shop staff,” says Jonathan Harrison from ACT. “We would certainly urge other retailers to consider doing likewise, especially as it only costs £62.50 for ACT members.”

And as for Luke, who Dave Maynard describes as “a great team player”, he isn’t only working in the workshop, he also on the shop floor selling bikes, as well as building them and fixing them.

“It is a very enjoyable position that, whilst oftentimes incredibly busy,  is very rewarding,” says Luke.

“The support is always more than adequate from the team around me allowing me to succeed in every aspect of work. It doesn’t come without its stresses, but the workshop is a great place to be; from repairing childhood favourites to building the latest and greatest models.

Weekends add an element of “fun” to the shop floor, always being on your feet makes the days fly. The training is invaluable and will enable me to soon progress inside the company.”

Kingston store manager Wes Swaffer adds:

"Having an apprentice for a long term initially felt like daunting prospect, and quite the commitment. But the experience and assistance I've had with from Luke has been invaluable.

His drive and work ethic has been amazing. He loves being part of our team and fully understands our customer and business goals.  He's always willing to stay till the jobs done. Is always ready to learn and develop new skills.  Luke is a pleasure to work with."

Cytech, the provider of the internationally recognised training and accreditation scheme for bicycle technicians, is owned by the UK cycle industry via the ACT. Since being developed over 30 years ago, over 25,000 Cytech technical training courses have been delivered with courses encompassing the basics of cycle mechanics right through to dealing with the most advanced and high-tech components and parts.

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