Gering High School student Will Larson is already deep into his career path, and he’s only a junior.

Larson recently started an apprenticeship at CS Precision Manufacturing. He’s the first from the school to have a Youth Registered Apprenticeship.

Last year, Gering High School’s Skilled and Technical Trade Career Pathways program was revamped, Dean of Students Mario Chavez said. Part of the mission was to give students a chance to apply what they are learning in the real world.

“So, naturally, a registered apprenticeship is the capstone step in making sure that our students are gaining the skills that they need, and then getting out into the workforce and putting those skills to work,” Chavez said.

Gering High School and CS Precision Manufacturing held a signing ceremony in front of the school on Thursday.

It also helps students establish soft skills, such as being on time and interviewing correctly, Chavez said.

“You know, I think registered apprenticeship is essential for every student,” he said. “Whether that’s possible or not, I think we’re going to strive to get as many Gering High Students into a registered apprenticeship that we can.”

The Youth Registered Apprenticeship program is made available through the Department of Labor, with most apprenticeships paid. Larson will receive a certification after finishing his manufacturing apprenticeship, but first he must complete 2,000 hours of work. He’s got about a year and a half to two years to do so.

Jill Wineman, human resources director at CS Precision Manufacturing, said the company is excited to have Larson on board. She said the company wanted to get involved after learning about the program, in an effort to meet the demands of the industry and encourage students to stay in the area.

“As an employer, we think it’s a great opportunity,” Wineman said. “We have continually grown year after year, and so we’re looking for people who want to learn a skilled trade.”

As of now, the program is geared toward juniors and seniors, but it may be expanded in the future. Regardless, it isn’t as simple as a student just signing up.

“It’s a very lengthy selection process,” said Chavez.

Larson sat in on a meeting about the position with about 35 other students, which was then narrowed down to 15 who were interested. Five of those were given interviews and Larson was selected.

Larson said he was excited to chosen for the program. Initially, he was supposed to begin during the fourth quarter, but COVID-19 delayed things. He was able to start working a few days ago and he’s enjoying it.

Michelle Wyre of the Nebraska Department of Labor attended the signing and congratulated Larson.

“We want to wish you every success in your endeavor,” she said.

Larson is currently the only apprentice, but more partnerships are in the works, Chavez said, including one in the diesel mechanic field. While the focus is currently on technical careers, Chavez plans to push for a registered apprenticeship somewhere in the ag program as well.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “Will is going to pave the pathway for future students.”

We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

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