Jack’s story

On leaving school, Jack did a six-month internship in IT, but it did not lead to a job and he found himself out of work. Funded by Gear Up, Jack completed Level 1 City & Guilds cycle maintenance at the Bikeworks co-op, working and learning in the workshop. After a period away, he returned to Bikeworks and began working towards achieving Level 2.

“I had just done a motorcycle maintenance course which was Level 1.  Then I was kind of in a bit of a stalemate. I didn’t have a job and wasn’t really motivated.

“Then Bikeworks came along. I’d been into bikes since my mum set me off on a plastic tricycle. I’d been fixing them and taking them apart, I’d find parts around dustbins and build them up. So it was good.

“The Level 1 course was really good. It was the fundamentals. You may be able to fix a bike but there’s a lot of quicker routes to doing things, easier ways. How to properly set up a certain brake or that type of thing. Learning that was pretty much essential. If you don’t know that you’d be stuck and not doing things efficiently.

“Then I got a job at [a well-known chain of bicycle shops], but I got fired after two and a half weeks. I’d been trying to learn and learn and learn. It’s hard to learn in that environment because they just want you to get on with it and they don’t really care. But I had no experience, I told them from the start. Then I was out of work.

“I started Level 2 in September 2011, learning a lot more in-depth knowledge into specific componentry: so various different types of headsets, cranks, wheels, brakes, brake levers. We’ll be doing accessories like child seats. We’ll be doing full strip-down.

“I’d like a job as a mechanic, because that will give me a lot more experience. In a bike shop you see a lot of bikes and the problems – bent forks and so on – that you might not notice.

“If you were in a pure college course for 10 days you’re just learning the theory plus a set amount of things. Whereas here it’s really great because you’ve got different mechanics. They can give us other things which aren’t on the course. So that’s even more experience and knowledge than most people would get off a quick course. We can get the main bits done and also focus on anything that could be interesting and could come up. And we see lots of different types of bikes.

“In five years’ time I could definitely still see myself as a cycle mechanic. I haven’t explored too much but I know the cycle industry is big and booming. Definitely doing this will make getting a job much easier. Once I’ve secured some kind of job there’s a lot more specialised things you can learn – disc brakes, wheel-building.

“That’s really quite interesting. I’m quite a perfectionist.  When you’re truing a wheel for a racer or something you have to get it perfect. It gives me satisfaction.”