Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM)shsm_logo.png

What is Specialist High Skill Major (SHSM)?
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 five components: a bundle of credits, certification and training experiences, experiential learning and career exploration activities, reach ahead experiences and a Sector-Partnered Experience (SPE).

What percentage is needed in each course to earn a SHSM?
Students need to pass each of the courses in the required bundle of credits, in addition to the other components of SHSM, in order to earn the designation and SHSM Red Seal.

How do I register for a SHSM?
Students should contact their school SHSM Lead Teacher or Guidance Counsellor to register for a SHSM.

What if a student in SHSM does not complete all program requirements?
Even if a student does not complete all components of the SHSM they are registered in, they will still benefit from the various certification training, field trips and other learning experiences related to the SHSM. Participating students will also receive a formal summary of their completed SHSM components upon graduation, on a SHSM Record Card.

If a student earns a required certification during the summer, can I count it toward their SHSM?
Yes, as long as the student has documentation showing the certification and can provide it to their school SHSM Lead Teacher or Guidance Counsellor.

Can OYAP students register for SHSM? 
Yes, it is strongly recommended that OYAP students register for SHSM if the home school offers a program in the same sector. Many OYAP requirements also count toward SHSM designation.

What is the difference between experiential learning and a reach ahead activity?
A reach ahead activity must be related to the student’s pathway (e.g. apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace) after high school. Experiential learning can be related to any post-secondary pathway.

When can a student register for SHSM?
Students can formally express their interest for SHSM in Grade 10 when making course selections for their Grade 11 year (between January and March). Students can also express interest and register during their Grade 11 year, and in their Grade 12 year if they have met sufficient program requirements. 


Can a student in Grade 12 still register for SHSM?
Yes. Provided a student has taken sufficient Grade 11 courses that meet the requirements of the program. Interested Grade 12 students should speak with their school SHSM Lead Teacher or Guidance Counsellor to discuss course and program options as soon as possible.


Can a student return for an additional term and complete SHSM after they graduate?
Yes, students can complete their SHSM any time after they graduate. Upon completion of the required components, students will receive an official SHSM Record Card showing that the program was successfully completed. Please note that students in this scenario will not receive the Red Seal on their diploma (as it was already awarded upon graduation).


What happens if a student switches pathways and/or career goals?
It is not uncommon for students to change their mind about where they see themselves in the future. SHSM programming is quite helpful in this regard – students have an opportunity to “try out” an area of interest, and shift that focus if they decide it does not suit them as once thought.
If a student wishes to change their SHSM program, they should contact the school SHSM Lead Teacher and/or Guidance Counsellor as soon as possible. HWCDSB secondary schools offer a variety of SHSM programs in various sectors, so it is often possible to switch to a program with a different focus. Some of the certifications and courses may also be used toward the new SHSM.


Do universities give priority to SHSM students when offering admissions?
Although most universities do not provide priority to SHSM designation for admissions, SHSM does provide a variety of advantages to university-bound students. 
For example, eligible SHSM graduates applying to McMaster University in Hamilton can earn a first year Social Sciences credit at no cost!
Before a SHSM student even begins university, the already have a professional portfolio that contains industry-recognized certifications and training, sector-specific education and real-world job experience. These qualifications are beneficial on supplemental applications for university and are highly valued in university cooperative education placements and beyond.


How can students fit co-op in their timetable?
Students have several options to fit co-op into their schedule and are encouraged to make an appointment to speak with the school SHSM Lead Teacher or their Guidance Counsellor.

OYAP OYAP_logo.svg

How can students fit co-op in their timetable?
Students have several options to fit co-op into their schedule and are encouraged to make an appointment to speak with the school SHSM Lead Teacher or their Guidance Counsellor.

What is Apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a pathway to a rewarding career in the trades. As an apprentice, students take classes and learn their trade by working under the direction of experienced workers – and get paid while you doing it.

How does a student get involved in OYAP or Apprenticeship?
Interested students should make an appointment with their Guidance Counsellor or speak with a Cooperative Education Teacher.

Dual Credit

How much do dual credit college courses cost?
There is no cost to students for course tuition or books for any dual credit courses.

How many credits can students earn in a dual credit?
In single period dual credit courses, students can earn one high school AND one college credit at the same time. In two period dual credit courses (e.g. Bridge), students can earn two high school AND two college credits at the same time. Please review the flyers for each program and contact your Guidance Counsellor for more information.

Where is the course taught, at the secondary school or at the college?
Dual credit courses can take place at either the secondary school or the college. Single period dual credits typically take place at the secondary school, whereas double period ones are typically taught at the college.

Which college are HWCDSB dual credit courses offered with?
All HWCDSB dual credits are currently offered in partnership with Mohawk College in Hamilton. For more details, visit Mohawk College, Hamilton Dual Credits.

Guidance and Pathways

What is a student pathway?
A student's program pathway is an educational strategy that is made up of the appropriate combination of courses, supports and experiences necessary for successful transition to specific post-secondary destinations.

Who do I contact for academic concerns?
Contact the subject teacher and/or school's Student Success Teacher.

Who do I contact for non-academic concerns?
For non-academic concerns, such as course selection and timetables, students should contact their Guidance Counsellor.

Concerns relating to attendance should be referred to the Vice-Principal.

Where can I find more information on post-secondary destinations (e.g. College) and the secondary courses needed to work towards a selected destination?
myBlueprint is a digital platform that offers HWCDSB students backward or forward planning opportunities with the most comprehensive post-secondary and career databases. It features a powerful high school course planner tool that allows students to visually plan towards province-specific graduation requirements while instantly discovering their eligibility for every post-secondary pathway in Canada.

Students can access myBlueprint directly from mySite or by visiting https://myblueprint.ca/hwcdsb and clicking on the School Account Login button (use mySite login credentials).