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 the company 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.
Maynard said: “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.
“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.”
The company is also planning to elevate the skill level across its estate.
Maynard added: “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.”
Cytech, the provider of the internationally recognised training and accreditation scheme for bicycle technicians, is owned by the UK cycle industry via the Association of Cycle Traders.
Since being developed more than 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.
Jonathan Harrison, from the ACT, said: “We think it’s fantastic that Balfe’s are investing in getting all staff theory one trained, including their shop staff.
“We would certainly urge other retailers to consider doing likewise, especially as it only costs £62.50 for ACT members.”