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What is a Specialist High Skills Major?

Specialist High Skills Major Program in a Nutshell - Power Point Presentation

Student Success is about meeting the individual learning needs of each and every student. Schools are providing students with more opportunities to customize their high school experience and build on their strengths and interests through a variety of new and enhanced learning options. One of those options is the Specialist High Skills Major (Ministry of Education, 2009).


What is a Specialist High Skills Major (S.H.S.M.)?


The S.H.S.M. is a ministry-approved specialized program that allows students to focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (O.S.S.D.) and assists in their transition from secondary school to apprenticeship training, college, university, or the workplace.


An S.H.S.M. enables students to gain sector-specific skills and knowledge in the context of engaging, career-related learning environments and helps them focus on graduation and on pursuing their postsecondary goals.


Every S.H.S.M. must include the following five components, which are outlined in detail in individual guides for each sector:


1. a bundle of 8–10 Grade 11 and Grade 12 credits that includes:

- 4 major credits that provide sector-specific knowledge and skills

- 2–4 other required credits from the Ontario curriculum, in which some expectations are met   

  through learning activities contextualized to the sector

- 2 cooperative education credits that provide authentic learning experiences in a workplace setting, enabling students to refine, extend, and practise sector-specific knowledge and skills


2. sector-recognized certifications and/or training courses


3. experiential learning and career exploration activities within the sector


4. “reach ahead” experiences connected with the student’s chosen postsecondary pathway


5. development of Essential Skills and work habits required in the sector, and the use of the Ontario Skills Passport (O.S.P.) for purposes of documentation


In the 2009–10 school year, Bradford District High School is proud to offer High Skills Majors in Construction and Transportation.


How does an S.H.S.M. benefit students?

- An S.H.S.M. allows students to experience a range of customized learning opportunities in an area that interests them, and helps to engage them in their school program.

- An S.H.S.M. program gives students the opportunity to explore, identify, and refine career goals and make informed decisions related to postsecondary education or training and next steps towards a career.

- An S.H.S.M. helps students gain confidence in their ability to succeed, and see the connections between their studies, the world beyond high school, and their future careers.

- The experiential learning opportunities provided in an SHSM enable students to develop Essential Skills and work habits that are required in the sector, and have their performance of those skills and work habits assessed and documented, using tools connected with the Ontario Skills Passport.

- Through an S.H.S.M., students begin to establish relationships and networks in their chosen field.

- Students who have earned an S.H.S.M. can provide evidence of their achievement of the required components (e.g., sector-recognized certifications and training programs) to prospective employers and postsecondary educational or training institutions.

How do I find out more?

For additional information, contact Mr. Jon Sweeny (Construction), Mr. Mike Cino (Transportation) or Mr. Justin van Diepen (Coordinator) at B.D.H.S. Additional information can be obtained at:



  • Sem 2 Calendar
  • Student Assignments are posted in the "Assignments" section