Cyclists and cycle shops have welcomed the announcement of the first national training standard for bicycle mechanics.
Torq Academy’s managing director Graeme Stickells said in a statement that with the registration of the bicycle mechanics qualification, South Africa will be “one of only a few countries to offer a formal training standard in this field”.
Stickells said the qualification was in answer to the “rapid advances in bicycle technology” and the need for structured training in the profession.
The qualification, the Occupational Certificate: Bicycle Mechanic, NQF Level, will benefit the industry as well as formalise the trade.
Stickells said Torq Zone, along with other role players, began developing the national qualification three years ago.
“Cycling has become the fastest growing sport in the country and has over the past few years created growth opportunities for the economy,” said Stickells.
“However, trained and qualified bicycle mechanics are in short supply due to ever increasing demands for the professional repair and maintenance of bicycles.”
He said that the qualification would also establish standards, improve safety, and recognise formal training.
“It also assesses the skill of bicycle mechanics, and provides much needed professional recognition,” he said.
Stickells said the national qualification was created in conjunction with the Torq Academy’s UK-based Cytech training scheme and will therefore ensure dual certification.
He said the Cytech programme was also offered in Australia and Canada, offering learners access to overseas work opportunities.
He added that with the country’s high unemployment rate, the qualification creates training and job opportunities for previously disadvantaged individuals.
Hattons Cycles store manager Nivesh Doodla said that the qualification was a necessity following the advancement in bicycle technology, and it assured customers their bicycles were being worked on by professionals.
Pietermaritzburg cyclist David Low said he felt the qualification recognised the work and skill of bicycle mechanics.
He said with some bicycles costing almost as much as a car, it was important to have someone qualified to work on the bike. “It would be like taking your expensive car down the road to some small shop to work on,” he said.
He said the formalisation of the profession would be a good move and that customers could rest assured that their bicycles were in the hands of professional and qualified bicycle mechanics.