Regardless of age or background, many people learn by doing, which is a principle that guides Dave Harkless, who teaches Project Bike Tech at Hugh J. Gallen Career & Technical Center in Littleton. “Students get to build bikes, work on bikes, and ride bikes,” he said.
The two-year Career and Technical Education (CTE) program is not just fun, however, as it helps students understand career pathways within the bicycle industry and prepares them for entry-level positions as bicycle technicians or retail associates. “Students learn valuable job skills and more about jobs in the bike world, too,” said Harkless, who also owns Littleton Bike & Fitness.
“There’s a really high demand for bike mechanics right now, and we can’t even keep up with it,” he added. “We know that when our students do finish the program that there will be a place for them in the workforce.” He said students also learn a variety of other skills that translate into the workplace. “They learn teamwork, accountability, that they have to be on time, and how to use tools — these are basic skills that they can take forward,” he said
Aside from providing students with “great hands-on experience,” Project Bike Tech benefits surrounding communities, as the majority of the bikes go to non-profits, schools and other community-based programs. “We sent a dozen to Riding for Focus, which is a program that provides an energy outlet for ADHD and hyperactive students during the day,” explained Harkless. “We’ve also sent 30 to the Boys and Girls Club, 25 to Copper Cannon Camp, and 15 to White Mountains Regional School.”
Upon program completion, students earn two certificates. One certificate is endorsed by CTE, while the other as an entry-level bike mechanic/assembler is endorsed by members of the bicycle industry. “As the student enters the bike industry, employers know the training is standardized and supported by the cycling industry,” said Harkless, who said he has hired some former students. “We weren’t starting at square one with this,” he said. “They already had good skills.”
A full service CTE facility offering a wide variety of foundation classes for students throughout the North Country, Hugh J. Gallen Career & Center is one of 28 CTE centers throughout New Hampshire.
When people think of culinary programs offered at New Hampshire’s more than two-dozen Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers, they likely think of skills related to food preparation, which only tells part of the story. “CTE helped prepare me for industry in many ways,” said Sarah Howland, who graduated from Concord Regional Technical Center’s Culinary & Pastry Arts program in 2015. “It helped me develop people skills and a sense of professionalism.”
Now Banquets and Catering Kitchen Manager at Fratello’s Italian Grille in Manchester, Howland said her experience in CTE was important because it gave her an idea of the restaurant industry itself. “CTE taught me to multitask and work efficiently in a fast-paced environment that can be stressful,” she said. “The program helped me grow as an individual personally and professionally.”
For Adam Parker, who will take over Culinary & Pastry Arts in the fall from Chef Bob McIntosh who has led the program for 20 years, Howland’s CTE experience is not necessarily unique. “I’ve been on the program’s advisory committee for the past three years and seen first-hand how CTE in general can shape a student’s perspective on their future,” he said.
This perspective is built on tangible life skills. “Culinary and Pastry Arts teaches the fundamentals of cooking and baking along with social skills, team building, and individual development within an overall progressive learning environment,” said Parker. “These lifelong skills build confidence, leadership, and a tenacious hunger for knowledge built on goal-oriented daily development.”
As former Director of Operations and Corporate Chef at Fratello’s, Parker also hosted Students-to-Work events and sponsored a culinary scholarship for SkillsUSA NH competitors. “I’ve hired students, some of whom now run their own kitchens,” he added. “In a state struggling to find people to work, CTE is a solution we can tap right now in hospitality and other industries across the state…Sarah’s experience is one of thousands of success stories statewide in a variety of CTE programs.”
Educating students from nine surrounding area high schools through programs that provide specific, career education in career pathways aligned with current and future employment needs, Concord Regional Technical Center (CRTC) is one of 28 CTE centers throughout New Hampshire.