What is the European MTB Instructor-guide project?
The project is to Create a European Professional Standard for MTB instructor-guides (CAPS-MTB) in Europe. It needed a snappy acronym for the European Commission funding which is helping to ensure the project’s delivery across Europe during 2017/2018. The project is aimed both at:
- countries/organisations who already have instructor-guide training programs and
- countries/organisations who do not yet have a training program, but would like to develop one quickly and to the highest standards.
Who is involved?
The Erasmus+ project partners are IMBA Europe, Swiss Cycling, the MCF (France), POMBA (Poland), Slovenian Cycling and the NTFU (Netherlands). Outwith the Erasmus+ funded project, we have also since been joined by Skiskolenes Bransjeforbund (SBF, Norway) and the Association of British Mountain Bike Guides (ABMG) and Denmark. At present this leaves 8 national organisations with several other organisations also interested in the process of joining the scheme so that continued growth is assured in 2018 and 2019.
What does the project do?
Create a minimum European training and evaluation standard for MTB instructor-guides. The standard has already been agreed and involves 360 hours of taught learning and 200 hours of professional experience. Each member organisation will continue to provide their own training schemes which, at the top level, meet the EO-MTBInG standard. Successful students will then be able to access a final European practical exam. The central final practical exam will be organised once a year (usually in autumn) at varying locations in Europe. Individual nations will also organise their own final exams, open to international students and overseen by an international evaluator.
What won’t the project do?
The project will not replace existing national training schemes. It’s purpose is to ensure that all these schemes meet the same standards of training and evaluation, regardless of which country a student has trained in.
I represent an MTB guide training organisation, how do we join?
If your Federation/Group wish to formally join the project, all you need to do is contact us and we will then continue the dialogue from there.
There are several MTB guide training organisations in my country. If we join, will you give us exclusive rights and deny access to other organisations from my country?
No. Our mission is purely positive and we will not involve ourselves in national issues. Any organisation who joins and reaches the EO-MTBing standard is welcome to join the project. The very best thing you can do is to create your own national guides association which brings together these organisations and then join as one. This saves time, money and creates the perfect platform to represent the profession in your country.
I am an individual MTB instructor-guide, how do I join?
This depends on which scenario you are in:
- You are from a country with an existing training system already affiliated to the EO-MTBing standard: Easy! Just join the organisation, complete their training and at the end you will be able to apply for your EO-MTBing license.
- You are from a country with an existing training system NOT YET affiliated to EO-MTBing: Simple – phone, email and shout at your training organisation that they need to join EO-MTBing and become part of the future of MTB instructor-guiding.
- You are from a country with no existing MTB instructor-guide training system: You must first re-group other MTB instructor-guides from your country and begin to create a new training organisation. We can then help you to create a world-class instructor-guide program using our ‘train the trainer’ course program. In just 1-2 years you could be training instructor-guides to the world’s highest standard in your own country. The next Train the Trainer courses are provisionally planned to begin during spring/autumn 2018. You can however join the project right away and begin working with us on your system before the TtT courses start.
How will Quality Assurance be implemented?
All the way through the scheme. Beginning with the initial process of either adapting an existing training scheme to meet the training standard or helping a country to create their own scheme according to the standard. The whole process is created and overseen by an expert panel who represent the greatest source of knowledge and experience on the profession currently working together in the world.
A program of regular exchanges and co-delivery of training courses/evaluations between member organisations ensures not only quality assurance but also the sharing of good working practice throughout Europe.
Finally, a shared European practical exam is the final stage in ensuring even quality assurance between all the member organisations, resulting in a European licence which will re-define the profession in the years to come.
What are the benefits?
To the mountain biking public:
- higher standards from your MTB instructor-guide, wherever you may be in Europe
- consistent standards from your MTB instructor-guide, wherever you may be in Europe
- total clarity – you will know for sure whether your MTB instructor-guide is qualified to the highest level
- peace of mind – no more ‘lucky dip’ in finding a good instructor-guide, just top level professional instruction and guiding every single time
To individual MTB instructor-guides:
- professional recognition – this is where your life’s passion stops being a hobby and instead becomes a career
- increased work opportunities – once the profession is recognised, work opportunities will massively increase as regularly using an instructor-guide becomes the norm rather than the exception.
- increased security – with an established profession, documented working practices and a panel of experts to provide assistance in any court issues, you won’t ever be alone.
- increased mobility – work throughout member nations all over Europe
- increased collaboration – direct access to a huge network of colleagues. Want to plan a trip in Slovenia? Easy, with your new network of European colleagues.
- more friends! – meet and work with other dedicated professionals all over Europe.
A working example:
The French have used their national qualification (the BPJEPS), alongside a professional body (the MCF) to create a domestic industry which employs 800 instructor-guides and has an annual turnover of €30 million, working with schools, clubs, recreational bikers and tourists. Expanded to a European scale, this figure would be €330 million. The potential is there to go much farther, with mountain bike guide-instructors working in every village, town, city, MTB centre, bike park and school, just as with sports like tennis, golf and football.
Creating a truly European standard is the key first step on the road towards this professionalised future for mountain biking.
How will the project progress?
Working groups are already carrying out the project work. The EO-MTBing standard training contents has been set and three members (France, Switzerland and Slovenia) have already been benchmarked* against it so that their qualifications meet the EO-MTBing standard. Britain, via the ABMG, have also begun this process.
(*benchmarking means comparing. In this case seeing how a system compares to the EO-MTBing standard, if any extra training needs to be added etc)
The other 3 members (Holland, Poland and Norway) are already part-way through the creation of their national training systems with our Train the Trainer courses. Their first generation of trainers will begin delivering their own courses during autumn 2017-Spring 2018.
How is the project being funded?
The project is funded in small part by the European Commission Erasmus+ program but mostly by the member organisations themselves and the hard work of volunteers from each country.
What investment of time/money is required from member states/organisations?
Travelling: The entire project group will meet twice a year to discuss progress so far and to plan future work. The first meeting will usually be timed to coincide with the IMBA Europe spring conference in order to minimise extra travelling. In 2017 this meeting will be held over the weekend of April 7-9th in Portugal. EO-MTBing will hold its own meeting just before the main conference on Friday April 7th. The second meeting is hosted in turn by the various member organisations. In 2016 we had the pleasure of visiting our Slovenian partners at Bike Nomad and in 2017 it will be the turn of POMBA to show off their local trails!
Work: The project work will be carried out by smaller working groups of 3-4 members, who will meet or video-conference every 2 months and continue working between these meetings.
Funding: Aside from the need to travel and the time commitment from anyone who joins a working group (this is not obligatory) the financial commitments required to be a partner are outlined below. Before committing to becoming a key partner, it is possible to be a supporting member. Both options are open to all federations, training schemes, unions and non-profit mountain biking organisations/user groups.
Partners are the active members of the project. They will fit one of two profiles:
1. Existing guide training organisation: In this case they will have been benchmarked against the EO-MTBing standard, will possibly have created an extra training course to make their students reach the EO-MTBing level, and now any of their guides qualifying to the top level can apply for their EO-MTBing European Licence (via the exam). The initial membership cost is 2000€.
2. Organisations/countries who do not yet have an instructor-guide training program: In this case we will use the standard EO-MTBing training content to help the country develop their own top-level MTB instructor-guide program. The initial membership fee is 2000€. After this, costs will vary depending on how much assistance the country requires from EO-MTBing to set up their training courses.
Supporting Members will perform a more passive role. There is no fee. We will keep you updated on all of our news and invite you to our annual open meeting during the IMBA Europe summit to discuss the progress and direction of the project.
Come and help shape the future of professional mountain bike instruction and guiding!