Students Graduate Portage College Before High School

June 6, 2019

Some students at Portage College’s June 7 Convocation in Lac La Biche will celebrate their college graduations before their high school graduations. Six Pre-Employment Cooking and eight Pre-Employment Heavy Equipment Technician (HET) Dual Credit high school students will walk the stage at Convocation to earn their college program certificates.

How is this possible? Northeastern Alberta high schools and Portage College are providing camps, free college credit courses, and dual-credit trades programs to allow younger students to get a preview of possible career options and post-secondary programs. High school students can choose the program that best matches their interest levels and schedules.

The first option, camps, provides a one- or two-day hands-on lab experience with college or university instructors from programs such as Natural Resources Technician and University Transfer. These labs range from field experience to DNA fingerprinting analyses.

The second option, one free university course per semester, is available to students with certain course pre-requisites or co-requisites. Students earn university credits and gain confidence and experience with post-secondary learning while still attending high school.

A third option is dual-credit trades programs, in which students earn high school credits and college credits at the same time, while also getting a head start in the trade. The Pre-employment Heavy Equipment Technician program (465 hours, 32 credits) combines 22 weeks of online theory and live support activities with 4 weeks of face-to-face labs, to prepare students to write the Period 1 Heavy Equipment Technician AIT exam. The Pre-employment Cooking Certificate program (16 credits) provides the skills and knowledge equivalent to First Period Apprenticeship Cook training, plus certification in Food Safe, First Aid, and WHMIS. Theory is taught online, while three one-week practical training sessions are taught on-site at the Food Sciences Centre. Students are eligible to write Period 1 of the AIT exam, the first step in earning Red Seal certification.

Robin Tizzard, Dean of University Transfer at Portage College, praises participating high schools for cooperatively selecting, funding, and supporting the program opportunities: “The partnerships are critical—we’re all working together to create and fill program cohorts that otherwise wouldn’t be available.”

Current participating schools include:

Aspenview Public Schools

East Central Alberta Catholic School

Elk Island Public School

Lakeland Catholic School Board

Northern Lights Public Schools

St. Paul Education Regional Division

Other high schools interested in participating can contact Robin Tizzard at 780-623-7121 or by email.

High school students enrolled in Portage College courses or programs have access to all student support services, including career planning, academic support, technology support, library/research assistance, and counselling services. To enrol in courses or programs described in this article, students can contact their high school counsellors or Portage Student Services at 1-866-623-5551 or

To learn more, please read more in our publication “Portage College Opportunities for High School Students”, visit or request for more information through our online form.

Media Inquiries: 
Jaime Davies, Corporate Communications Manager 
780-623-5581 or email 

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