A Southern California PHCC chapter is trying a new way to attract young people to HVAC and plumbing careers: pay them to try the industry.

The “Ride and Decide” program from the Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors of Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino matches high school juniors and seniors with member companies, giving the students a chance to ride along with HVAC technicians and plumbers and experience life as an apprentice. The students are paid for their time.

Students that like the program, which runs during school summer recess, have the chance to work with another contractor based on availability for up to another three weeks.

The program was created by PHCC chapter President Mike Barker, the owner of Barker and Sons Plumbing and Rooter in Anaheim, California.

“This is a great hands-on opportunity for these kids,” Barker said. “They need to know the trades are a great option when looking at their future, at their possible career.”

Barker recently gave a presentation on the program to mentoring organization Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“We’ll go anywhere the kids are,” he said.

The program is also being expanded to other parts of the state. Michael Gonzales recently took part in the program, working with James Caccia Plumbing in San Mateo, California.

“I absolutely love this program,” he said. “I loved every last bit of working with the guys. This is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door of a trade and get into a career as soon as you get out of high school.”