Summit High School is introducing a bike tech certification program | SummitDaily.com

Summit High School is introducing a bike tech certification program

Longtime Summit County bike mechanic Gary Lunsky at work on a bike in Frisco, April 2013. Summit High School is starting a bike tech certification this fall.

In Summit County, recreation is king. A resort town's economy runs on the money generated from people who want to ski the mountain slopes and bike the forest trails. Many locals who grow up here want to stay in the county for those very reasons, but there aren't a lot of career opportunities available to live that dream. Fortunately, Summit High School is developing yet another innovative program that gives its students a chance to get the skills and certification they need to live in Summit even after graduation in the form of a bike technician program.

Last year, SHS started a ski technician program that trains interested students in how to become certified to work at ski shops all around town. Beginning this fall, a bike tech program in collaboration with California-based Project Bike Tech will offer training to become bike technicians, bridging the gap between winter and summer and giving graduates the chance to be productive and gainfully employed all year long.

SHS principal Drew Adkins said that the state requires a certain number of technical certification programs, and the ski and bike tech programs help fulfill those requirements while also focusing on giving students the skills most needed in their hometowns.

"After the success and response to the ski tech program, we thought a logical next step was to combine with the fact that most ski shops close their doors and transform into bike shops in the summer," Adkins said. "We thought it'd be a great opportunity to complement the ski tech program with a bike program that will help kids get jobs in the summer, supports our industry and fuel leaders for the industry or even just part-time jobs in a busy seasonal industry."

The bike tech program would take place in the fall and train students how to do the basics of bike mechanics with the introductory certification enough to get an internship at a local shop in the summer. And while those skills are important in the county, Project Bike Tech executive director Mercedes Ross said that the bicycle industry in particular is booming all across the country.

"The infrastructure of the country is increasing bike use everywhere," Ross said. "Cities and towns are going to see a tremendous amount of money put into bicycle paths and bike accessibility, and everything from outdoor industry to infrastructure in cities will need bike techs in general. That also means the retail world needs bike techs immediately. If these young people go that way, there'll be plenty of jobs."

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Project Bike Tech deputy director Brian Fisher also noted that labor statistics back that claim up.

"According to the Department of Labor, bike repair is one of the top 20 fastest growing careers in the country," Fisher said.

Ross also noted that the skills the students learn in the bike tech program go beyond just the mechanical skills or jobs at bike shops.

"It's a lot more involved than just basic bike tech skills," Ross said. "The students learn everything from putting together an entire bicycle in Level 1 certification training, to more extensive classes in level 2 where they can possibly become an apprentice at a shop or go further out in the industry. They also learn how to write a resume, how to do an interview, how to work in a retail environment, run point of sales system, do inventory and be a part of the booming green movement. It lets them see all they can do in an industry that has 7.2 million jobs available."

Ross added that the skills and knowledge students learn from the industry can prepare them for jobs in transportation and infrastructure, two critical industries in need of bright young workers who are already equipped with certifications.

In an age where young people are constantly facing changing technology and job markets, Summit High School is trying to build their program to help students be a skill-ready generation that anyone would want to hire. Assistant principal and career and technical education coordinator Doug Blake says this bike tech program goes along with all of those goals and give more doors for students to walk through when passing into adulthood starting next year.

"We train them and get them certifications, and in the winter get them out to work in ski shops," Blake said. "Right after winter break it'll be bike shop time, and they'll be prepped and ready to go. By right about this time next year we're hoping to send out some thrilled, excited kids into our communities to start supporting these bike shops around Summit County."