The High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP) has been assisting Portage Collegiate Institute (PCI) students in refining their abilities for jobs they may pursue after high school.

Blair Hordeski, the career development coordinator with the Portage la Prairie School Division, says that this program is one that PCI is lucky to take part in.

"It's a great program where students get an opportunity to try a trade and experience the trades before graduating high school," says Hordeski. "Students earn authentic apprenticeship hours and earn credits toward high school graduation, as well as a salary. They are actual employees. It's one of education's best-kept secrets, and its operation is entirely dependent on support from employers in the community."

Brandon Ferg, a grade 12 student at PCI, has decided to try his hand in Aircraft Maintenance and says that the fit has been really good.

"It's helped me step my foot in the door and figure out if I want to do this job for life. It's been really good to me so far."

Ferg adds that he went into the program not knowing too much about aircraft, so he has been able to pick up a lot of knowledge. 

"When I first went there, I wasn't too sure what to expect, but we kind of got into it quickly, and it's been really neat."

He notes his favourite part of the experience so far has been getting the opportunity to see the inside of engines, take apart equipment and add new features to planes.

Mercedes Bates, also a student soon to graduate from PCI, is currently in the Truck and Transport program and talks about her experience so far.

"I'm really enjoying it. It's neat."

Bates states that her interest in semis is what drove her to the program and that this experience has taught her that working on bigger engines isn't for everybody.

She says that seeing the difference between general automotive vehicles and semi-trucks is one of her favourite parts of the course.

From personal experience, Bates notes that this program is designed for determined individuals who won't give up if things don't go exactly to plan.