What is a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM)?

An SHSM is a ministry-approved specialized program that allows students to focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements to graduate from secondary school. It also assists in their transition after graduation to apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace.

SHSMs are available at Southwood in the following sectors:

  • Environment
  • Transportation
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Health and Wellness

What are the key benefits of an SHSM?

Pursuing an SHSM helps students to:

  • Customize their secondary school education to suit their interests and talents.
  • Develop specialized knowledge and skills.
  • Earn credits that post-secondary educational institutions and the sector recognize.
  • Gain sector-recognized certification and career-relevant training.
  • Develop essential skills and work habits documented through the Ontario Skills Passport.
  • Identify, explore, and refine career goals and make informed decisions about their future.
  • Remain flexible, with the option to shift between pathways, should their goals and plans change.

How is an SHSM recognized?

Students who successfully complete an SHSM receive:

  • an Ontario Secondary School Diploma with an embossed SHSM seal
  • an SHSM Record documenting his/her achievement
  • formal recognition on his/her Ontario Student Transcript

What are the components of an SHSM?

Each SHSM consists of five required components:

  1. Bundled Credits
    A defined bundle of credits consisting of eight to ten Grade 11 and Grade 12 credits, including cooperative education credits.
  2. Certification and training
    Sector-recognized certifications and training courses and programs
  3. Experiential learning and career exploration activities
    Experiential learning and career exploration activities within the sector
  4. Reach ahead experiences
    Learning experiences connected with the student’s post-secondary plans
  5. Essential Skills and work habits
    Development of Essential Skills and work habits required in the sector, recorded using the tools in the Ontario Skills Passport (OSP)

What can I do to prepare?

  • Plan accordingly: take the Grade 9 and Grade 10 courses that will lead you to the pathway of your choice.
  • Contact the appropriate SHSM Lead:
    • Environment-Mr. Bracey at jason_bracey@wrdsb.ca
    • Transportation-Mr. Stockford at steve_stockford@wrdsb.ca
    • Hospitality and Tourism-Mrs. Martin at joanne_martin@wrdsb.ca
    • Health and Wellness-Mrs. Deacon at jacqueline_deacon@wrdsb.ca
  • Visit your guidance counsellor for further information.

When can I get started?

  • Apply in your Grade 10 or 11 year, by signing up in My Blueprint to indicate your interest.
  • If you are interested please contact your guidance counsellor or school SHSM Lead to register today!

Check out this Promotional Video for more details!


The Environment Specialist High Skills Major is a program designed for students who have a passion for the environment and are looking for challenges and experiences applying their knowledge outside of the traditional classroom. Students will learn sector specific skills and gain valuable hands-on experiences in environment based education. This program is ideal for any student interested in an intensive environment based education and who is looking to pursue a post-secondary education or occupation in an environment related field.

Check out the Course Outline

Contact Mr. Bracey at jason_bracey@wrdsb.ca if you have further questions

If you are interested in signing up for the SHSM Environment, please sign up in MyBlueprint and connect with your guidance counsellor.


The Transportation Specialist High Skills Major program is also offered at Southwood.

The SHSM-Transportation Program will help students develop:

  • A sound foundation to learn in the Transportation industry
  • Servicing or repairing all types of vehicles
  • Personal management skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Self-confidence

Check out the Course Information and Course Requirements

Contact Mr. Stockford at steve_stockford@wrdsb.ca if you have further questions.

If you are interested in signing up for the SHSM Transportation, please sign up in MyBlueprint and connect with your guidance counsellor.


The Hospitality and Tourism Specialist High Skills Major includes the following components:

In the hospitality/tourism major, you will take nine credits in grade 11 and 12:

    • four hospitality/tourism major credits

    • one English credit, one math credit and one credit of either science or hospitality/tourism, each with units focused on hospitality/tourism

    • two co-operative education credits to gain workplace experience that helps you refine, extend and practice your business knowledge and skills

Sector-recognized certification and training

As part of the hospitality and tourism major, you will earn six certifications, including the following four that are compulsory:

  • customer service

  • standard first aid

  • CPR, level A

  • hazardous materials – Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHMIS)

  • Food Handling and Smart Serve

Future career paths for hospitality/tourism majors

For hospitality/tourism majors, possible careers include:

  • apprenticeship – baker, cook, chef, special events coordinator

  • college – flight attendant, food service manager

  • university – nutritionist, dietician, hotel/resort manager

  • entry level workplace – hotel valet, bartender

Get more information

Contact Ms. Krawchyk (SHSM Success Lead) or Mrs Martin (SHSM Sector Lead) for more information about this program