SHSM Explained

Home/SHSM Explained
SHSM Explained2019-10-22T09:37:10-04:00

Students in the Specialist High Skills Major Program are provided with the opportunity to specialize, gain qualifications, and plan a career pathway in a specific employment sector while still in high school.

The SHSM Program is for Grade 11 & 12 students who are planning to attend Apprenticeship training, College, University or the Workplace. Students select a major as their focus in their senior years and complete the three components; Certifications, Courses & Co-op, to earn their red seal designation on their high school diploma.

Participating in SHSM gives students the opportunity to gain important skills on the job with actual employers, at skills training centres and at school, while earning valuable industry certifications including first aid and CPR qualifications.

Components include:

1. Courses – A bundle of 8-10 courses in your grade 11 and 12 year, related to a major

2. Co-op Experience –  A workplace experience allows students to try out their future career and while practicing sector-specific knowledge and skills.  Typically, students select a 2 credit work placement in an area of interest. (either  a morning or afternoon placement during the regular school year). However, there are many different types of Co-op, includeing Summer Co-op, or other 3-4 credit Co-op programs like College Co-op (CCEP), University Co-op (UCEP), and OYAP. To explore different types of Co-op, please visit: Co-operative Education

3. Certifications – Students are invited to sign up for certifications, training sessions throughout the school year which are related to the Major and employment sector. Most training sessions occur during the school day at off-site training facilities and transportation is always provided. Lunch is typically provided as well! Examples can include WHMIS, Customer Service, Infection Control, Safe Food Handling, Management & Leadership, and many more! Click on the Trips & Training area to see current offerings.

4. Sector-Partner Contextualized Experience (SPCC) -The SPCC is a 6 hour activity with a career-related sector partner. This component allows students to work alongside an experienced professional to develop a solution to a presented challenge. Students can participate in an SPCC in three ways: I.C.E (Innovation, Creativity, Entrepreneurship) Challenge Day, sector-contextualized coding activity, or sector-contextualized mathematics activity.

Students who successfully complete all components of the program earn a Specialist High Skills Major (Red Seal) designation on their diploma.

What are the Benefits?SHSM Graduate Comments

The SHSM Program 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.

A SHSM 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.

A SHSM 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 a SHSM, students begin to establish relationships and networks in their chosen field.

Students who have earned a SHSM 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.

Students can visit their school’s Guidance Department to pick up a Participation/Sign Up Form or print a form below.
Many students learn about SHSM in their Grade 10 Career Class, Co-op and in Class presentations, and are encouraged to sign up at this time.

Grade 9 & 10 students can sign up at anytime, although the program will not officially begin until their grade 11 year, but will receive further assistance at course selection time.

Deadline to sign up is October 19, 2018 for Grades 11 & 12 Students!

Participation/Sign Up Form :

Monsignor Doyle | Resurrection C.S.S | St. Benedict C.S.S | St. David C.S.S | St. Mary’s High School

Trips & Training Permission Forms :

Monsignor Doyle | Resurrection C.S.S St. Benedict C.S.S St. David C.S.S | St. Mary’s High School

View the complete Grade 10 Careers Class Video (coming soon!)

View the Parent Guide

Visit the Ministry of Education Site on SHSM


1. What percentage do I need in each course to earn a SHSM?
You need to pass each of the courses in the required bundle of credits.

2. How do I register for a SHSM?
Make an appointment to see your guidance counselor.

3. 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.

4. If I earn a required certification during the summer, can I count it toward my SHSM?
Yes, as long as you have documentation showing the certification.

5. Can I take Co-op or OYAP without being in a SHSM?
Yes, you do not need to be part of the SHSM to take Co-op or OYAP.

6. I am a concentrated OYAP student. Should I register for a SHSM?
Yes, it is strongly recommended that you register for the SHSM if your school is offering the same sector as your OYAP. Many of your OYAP requirements will count toward your SHSM as well.

7. What is the difference between experiential learning and a Reach Ahead activity?
The Reach Ahead activity must be related to your destination after high school. Experiential learning can be related to any of the four destinations.

8. 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.

9.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 (but you will not receive the Red Seal on your diploma).

10. What happens if I want to switch to a career in a different employment sector?

Let your guidance counsellor know that you have changed career goals. If your school offers a SHSM related to your new career area, your SHSM can be switched to the new sector. Some of the certifications and courses may also be used toward your new SHSM.

11. Will earning a SHSM help me get into university?
At this point, univerisities (except Guelph – Agriculture) do not consider the SHSM for admissions. BUT…the SHSM does provide a definite advantage for students going to univeristy. It occurs when students are competing to obtain employment between terms at university. The SHSM qualification and associated training and certifications provide a distrinct advantage to students when applying for summer employment or Co-op placements. These qualifications add to a student’s portfolio when going through job interviews.

12. Does UCEP (University Cooperative Education Program) count toward the SHSM?
Yes, if a student chooses UCEP during grade 12, they spend the full day at university for one semester. During this time, they get 2 Co-op credits (required for SHSM) as well as one or two credits from English (ENG4U), Physics (SPH4U), Math (MHF4U), Religion (HRE4M), English The Writers Craft (EWC4U) that can be applied toward university entrance.

13. 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. You can take summer Co-op as part of your fifth year 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.

14. I have two coop credits with a code of GLN4OC. Why are they NOT counted towards my SHSM designation?
For coop to count towards the SHSM, it has to be related to a course that is in the SHSM pathway chart. GLN is not in any SHSM pathway chart.

15. 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 and Architecture also require supplemental information.

16. I have just signed up for a SHSM. How soon will I start receiving notices of training and certification opportunities?

When your information is entered into the system, you can expect to receive notification of upcoming trips from your homeroom teacher as well as a voicemail message sent to your home phone. At any time, you can visit and pick “Trips and Training” to view upcoming events, training and certification opportunities relevant to your SHSM.