• What is an SHSM?

    The Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program, which is part of the Ministry of Education’s Student Success initiative in the province of Ontario, has been introduced to offer province-wide specialized programs in specific ministry-identified sectors to support the success of all students. Ontario secondary schools are offering expanded programs to help meet students’ individual learning styles and interests. These options include Dual Credits, Specialist High Skills Majors and Cooperative Education. These programs help to meet the needs, interests and strengths of all students, engaging them in learning and better preparing them for graduation and beyond.


    Students who choose an SHSM designation learn through co-operative education and experiential learning placement within the community. Students who complete an SHSM designation can be confident when they leave high school that they are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and industry-recognized qualifications desired by employers and post-secondary institutions. Niagara Catholic is proud to be partnered with many local businesses and agencies within the Niagara Region to offer its students rich and diverse opportunities to gain practical experience and expertise in their chosen career fields.

  • Core Components

    •Bundled Credits: Each SHSM program offers students a bundle of 8-10 Grade 11 and Grade 12 credits. The credits include: 4 “major” credits

     in their area of interest, English and Mathematics, other elective courses in Science, Business or Social Sciences that are designed to complement the major courses, and at least 2 co-op courses related to their SHSM.


    •Sector-Recognized Certifications: Related to the major and selected from a list, both generic and specific to support the sector (i.e. WHMIS, First Aid, Fall Arrest).


    •Experiential Learning Opportunities: Which includes: Job-shadowing, job-twinning, work experience, cooperative education, field trips and other workplace experiences for students to explore careers related to that sector.


    •Reach Ahead Experiences: In the field and sectors considered as a post-secondary destination, ranging from a few hours to full courses (e.g. Dual Credit program).

  • What advantages do SHSM students have?

    • HEAR and SEE …first-hand what a career in their sector feels and looks like

    • NETWORK… with post-secondary institutions, local industries, and businesses

    • GAIN… confidence in their ability to succeed

    • COMPLETE… industry recognized certifications and training

    • OPEN… doors for summer jobs and future employment

    • EARN…a Red Seal designation on their OSSD

  •  What does the Red Seal mean?

    • Employers and post-secondary institutions recognize that a student has participated in specialized, career focused programming.

    • SHSM students receive an additional transcript outlining their accomplishments.

  • Can I register to be a SHSM student even if I am doubtful that I will complete all the required components?

    • Yes, if you are interested in a possible career related to a SHSM sector, you can register for that SHSM.

    • Even if you do not complete all the components of the SHSM, you will still benefit from certification training, field trips and other learning experiences related to the SHSM. You will also receive a summary of all your completed SHSM components when you graduate.

  • I am in grade 12. I have not taken some of the grade 11 courses specified in the SHSM pathway chart. Can I still get my SHSM designation?

    • You will not get your SHSM designation until you have completed ALL the courses in the SHSM pathway chart both in grade 11 and grade

    12. You can speak to your guidance counsellor for more information.

  • Can I return for an additional term and complete my SHSM after I graduate?

    • Yes, you can complete your SHSM any time after you graduate.

    • Upon completion of the required components, you will receive an official SHSM summary sheet showing that you completed the SHSM.

  • I am a university-bound student who needs specific courses. How can I fit a co-op course in my timetable?

    You have several options:  after school co-op, summer co-op, or you can take a grade 11 SHSM major course during grade 10. This will leave two credits open for co-op in grade 12.

  • How are SHSM students at an advantage in their application to University?

    Many post-secondary applications to University have opportunities for supplemental applications. There are programs that traditionally require portfolios and/or interviews. Many of these are in the

    Arts which would be an advantage for the Arts and Culture SHSM. Some programs in Radio and Broadcasting, Communications, Journalism, Business and Architecture also require supplemental information.

  • What if after starting the program the student decides this is not for them?

    • All credits earned in an SHSM program count towards the completion of a standard OSSD.

    • Any certifications or training gained will hold students in good standing for part-time jobs or work placements.

    • Co-op is a valuable experience, allowing a student to discover what they like doing and just as importantly, what they don’t like doing.

All trade-marks are owned or used under license by Niagara Catholic School Board ©2016