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Program truly puts students to work

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Most high school students only dream about getting paid while earning credits.

Sherry Proulx’s job is to make those dreams come true.

Proulx was hired this year to serve as the River East Transcona School Division’s apprenticeship support teacher. The position involves connecting students 16 years of age or older at the division’s six high schools to the province’s High School Apprenticeship Program.

The program helps businesses employ students in over 50 trades in the industrial, transportation, construction, and service fields.

"The division realized that there was a need to bring this program to light," said Proulx, who is based at Kildonan-East Collegiate. "I’ve been doing presentations in the six senior-years schools in the division. I’ve been meeting with some kids specifically."

Schools will work to accommodate any eligible student who gains employment. Proulx pointed to a Grade 12 student set to earn eight credit hours by working as a mechanic in the morning and attending regular academic classes such as English, math and physical education in the afternoon.

Proulx said some working students may already be eligible, giving an example of a student who qualified for the program by virtue of working for a golf course over the summer. He received three high school credits as his employment was defined as that of a landscape horticulturalist. Students receive one credit for every 110 hours worked.

If students in the program they’re interested in turning the apprenticeship into a career, there are ways to have college tuition covered, leaving students paying only secondary fees for their education.

"The nicest, sweetest part of all of this is that upon graduation, if the student decides that ‘this is the trade I want to go into’, because they’re enrolled in the High School Apprenticeship Program, Apprenticeship Manitoba pays for their continuing education at Red River (College)," she said.

"Even after graduation, if you decide ‘I don’t want to be a landscape horticulturalist’, that’s OK. You got some high school credits out of the deal, you got paid, and you’ve got skills that you’ll have for the rest of your life."

Proulx stressed now is an excellent time for students to enter the trades, as the demand is present and set to grow.

She explained her position also involves contacting employers to make them aware of the program, as there are grants and incentives available for participating businesses. She also hopes to educate parents about the program.

Those looking for more information on the program can visit www.manitoba.ca/tradecareers.

dan.falloon@canstarnews.com

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