The Aylesbury Training Group, a registered charity, has been awarded a funding package for a mobile training service. Thanks to the cash from the Learning Skills Council, ATG will be able to take its Cytech NVQ training courses on the road, Formula One style. A number of HGV trailers would be converted into rolling workshops and could be transported anywhere in the country.

ATG to take training to the mechanics

At present, NVQ trainees have to travel to Aylesbury in order to complete their courses.

The ambitious plans to extend ATG’s services to many more cycle mechanics than is currently possible with ATG’s ten static workshop bays will be a real boon to the cycle industry, said ATG’s Alan Finch.

"The bike trade would then have qualifications that are free and on your doorstep."

The Learning Skills Council’s national contract may also involve funding for making ATG’s courses free to mechanics aged over 25. At the moment only mechanics 25 or under qualify for free training.

Equipping and fitting out the trailers will cost £30 000-40 000 per trailer. A haulage contract for one-way transporting, and depositing, of the trailer units is currently out to tender.

An ATG trained mechanic is a boon to his or her employer, said Finch.

"Properly trained mechanics are more professional, and faster too. Workshops can become real profit centres. Bike shops could charge more if the standard of work was higher. When their workshops start to earn more money, mechanics can approach their employers for wage rises. It’s a win-win situation."

As of December, 180 NVQ trainees had gone through ATG’s doors since the course started in March 2001. Started by Finch and Peter Cowling, former co-owner of Buckley-Saxon Cycles of Essex, the EMTA-awarded Cytech NVQ course has been a roaring success for ATG: there are now 13 members of staff.

The Aylesbury Training Group will be launching level three of the NVQ at the Madison Convention, 24th February. This is the advanced level of the course, suitable for more experienced mechanics. This course, and the mobile training service, will also be on display at the Cycle and Leisure Show, 3rd-5th March.

Alan Finch is good at thinking big: one of his goals is to set up a European standard for cycle mechanic training, something companies such as Sapim, Campagnolo and Shimano are said to be crying out for.

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