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Environmental Specialist High Skills Major

greyhighlandsbanner.jpgA Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) is a type of ministry-approved specialized education program.  A SHSM allows students to focus on knowledge and skills that are of particular importance in certain economic sectors, and to obtain certifications recognized in those sectors, as they work toward meeting the requirements for an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).  Students who graduate with a SHSM designation on their diploma are prepared for success in a particular sector and in the post-secondary destination of their choice, whether it be apprenticeship, workplace, college, or university.  The first three courses listed below and one coop credit are to be taken in one semester as part of the ESP program.  Each of these courses qualify toward the requirements for the Environmental Specialist High Skills Major.

Students who successfully complete the Environmental Studies program will achieve the following toward earning the Environmental Specialist High Skills Major.
  • earn 3 or the 4 required core courses;
  • earn 7 certifications;
  • participate in "Reach Ahead Experiences";
  • participate in "Experiential Learning Activities".
Students will only need to complete the following in order to qualify for the Environmental Specialist High Skills Major upon successful completion of the Environmental Studies Program:
  • earn the 4th core credit: SVN 3M (Environmental Science);
  • earn 2 coop credits in an environmental placement (this can include paid summer coop placements);
  • 3 Contextualised Learning Activities (CLAs) in Math and English courses;
  • Use the Ontario Skills Passport to document key essential skills and work habits as identified by the Enviromental Specialist High Skills Major.
What is a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM)?
  • The SHSM 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 (OSSD)
and assists in their transition from secondary school to apprenticeship training, college, university, or the

  • An SHSM 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 SHSM must include the following five components, which are outlined in detail in individual guides
for each sector:

1. a bundle of 8 to 10 Grade 11 and Grade 12 credits that includes:
  • i) 4 major credits that provide sector-specific knowledge and skills
  • ii) 2 to 4 other required credits from the Ontario curriculum, in which some expectations are met through learning activities contextualized to the sector
  • iii) 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 studentís chosen postsecondary pathway

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

  • In the 2008/09 school year, SHSMs are being offered in the following sectors:
Health and Wellness
Arts and Culture
Horticulture and Landscaping
Hospitality and Tourism
Community Safety and Emergency Services
Information and Communications Technology
The Environment

How does an SHSM benefit students?
  • An SHSM 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 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.

  • An 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 an SHSM, students begin to establish relationships and networks in their chosen field.
  • Students who have earned an 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.

How does an SHSM benefit students?
  • Successful completion of an SHSM is indicated on the student's Ontario Secondary School Diploma by a
red seal.

  • The student receives an SHSM Record that documents his or her achievement of the required components,
including sector-related certifications earned and/or training courses completed.

  • Successful completion of an SHSM is indicated on the studentís Ontario Student Transcript (OST).
  • In the 2008ñ09 school year, SHSM programs will be available in all school boards across the province.
Where are SHSM programs being delivered?
More than 300 schools will offer over 400 SHSMs in one or more of the sectors.
  • Individual guides for each sector, as well as the SHSM Implementation Guide, are available at:

How do I find out more?
  • For additional information, contact the school Student Success Teacher or the Lead Teacher for the
SHSM programs at school.

Last Modified: Jun 29, 2010
© 2007 - Bluewater District School Board