The European Commission’s education program Erasmus+, has announced three years of economic support for developing a European-wide MTB Trail Builder Certification framework set to launch in 2025/26.
The popularity of mountain biking is booming, amplifying the need for more trails and skilled trail builders to plan, design, construct and maintain sustainable trail infrastructure across Europe. This was the impetus for the DIRTT (Developing Intereuropean Resources for Trail builder Training) project in 2019, started by IMBA Europe and an international project group representing both volunteer and professional trail builders, education providers, municipalities and tourist destinations. In the first project phase DIRTT developed a mountain bike trail educational framework and study programme, leading to Europe’s first formal education for Mountain Bike Trail Planning, Construction and Maintenance at Fagskolen I Viken. The program was launched in September 2022 with a total of 25 students from 12 different countries. Thanks to the renewed support from the European Commission DIRTT will be able to continue developing the existing framework into a European-wide trail builder certification program in the form of DIRTT 2.0
Building capacity, distinguishing quality
In a comprehensive trail building sector survey undertaken by the DIRTT project in 2020, as many as 65% responded that they struggle to recruit employees with the appropriate skills and competence. Furthermore, 56% of the sector experience that there is not enough training available to meet the needs of their organization. Hence, the first phase of DIRTT was dedicated to building more training capacity both at the volunteer and professional level. Another central finding in the 2020-survey was a strong demand for a non-mandatory certification program. As many as 79% of the respondents felt that the introduction of certification would lead to an increase in the quality and sustainability of mountain bike trails. With a growing body of quality assured educational resources, and DIRTT-related training and education programs starting to form around Europe, the international certification program was a natural next step for DIRTT. Work on the certification will commence January 2023, leading up to a planned 2025/2026 certification launch coordinated by IMBA Europe.
A move towards stronger job recognition
What will a certification framework mean for trail builders? Firstly, the planned certification framework for mountain bike trail building will be a standard for the competences needed in the sector, serving as a much-needed yardstick for quality assurance of the skills and knowledge held by professionals in the sector. Secondly, a certification framework will add a stronger degree of formal job recognition to the craft of trail building across Europe.
“We realize that maintaining the status quo might feel like the most convenient alternative for some. Yet, with the massive growth in trail building also comes increased responsibility. The certification project is a golden opportunity for the sector to shape the profile and position of professional trail building in the future.” – Lars W. Jensen, DIRTT Project Manager
For more information on the DIRTT Project, head to the project page below.