Skip to main content

Experiential Learning

Specialist High Skills Major(s)

August 27, 2020

The Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM) program offers grade 11 and 12 students the chance to explore a specific community, economic or industrial sector to prepare for post-secondary destinations.

Specialist High Skills Major(s)

What does it look like?

The Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM) program offers grade 11 and 12 students the opportunity to explore a specific community, or economic and/or industrial sector, in preparation for post-secondary destinations in one of four pathways: Apprenticeship, College, University, or Workplace.

SHSM includes five main components: 1) specified, bundled credits, 2) sector partner experiences, 3) sector-recognized certifications, 4) ‘Reach Ahead’ activities, and 5) participation in a sector-partnered contextualized experience, where students work with real community organizations to solve an authentic problem their organization may face.

SHSM in Waterloo Region

Here's links to the SHSM programs at our local English school boards and videos that give an great overview of why you might want to participate.

The Waterloo Region District School Board currently offers majors in 12 sectors ranging from agriculture to sports.

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board currently offers 13 majors in sectors ranging from arts and culture to transportation.


Students and Families

An SHSM enables students to:

  • Customize their secondary school education to suit their interests and talents;

  • Develop specialized knowledge and skills that are valued by the sector and postsecondary education institutions;

  • Earn credits that are recognized by the sector and postsecondary education institutions;

  • Gain sector-specific and career-relevant certification and training;

  • Engage in sector-partnered experiences that are relevant to the sector;

  • Identify, explore, and refine their career goals and make informed decisions about their postsecondary destination;

  • Remain flexible, with the option to shift between pathways should their goals and plans change.

Employers and Community

  • Promotes youth engagement and profile of community placement or employer as progressive and supportive

  • Develops talent, skills, and employees related to a sector


  • Provides meaningful, sector-oriented experience for students with an interest in an employment sector

  • Links directly to curricular learning outcomes and promotes cross curricular-focused instruction


Students and Families

  • Promotes exploration of a career destination related to an employment sector

  • May be particularly engaging for those with an interest in employment sector-related skills and career opportunities

Employers and Community

  • May be a helpful support in identifying possible talent, community contributors, and employees


  • Allows for close work with colleagues/students to make curricular programming more relevant and connected to sector applications

Learn more & Get involved

Ontario SHSM



Click here to share your story!

See upcoming events

Back to top

Is there a learning experience that you can provide?

Contact us to discuss this opportunity.

* Required fields.

Maximum 200 characters.

We use cookies to make interactions with our website and services easy and meaningful, to better understand how they are used and to tailor advertising. By using our website or clicking "accept", you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy.