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Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM)


PDCI now has FIVE Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) Programs which are in the following economic sectors:

Arts & Culture




Transportation Technology 

Horticulture and Landscaping

Information and Communications Technology

So, what is a SHSM?
Well, a Specialist High Skills Major 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 workplace. Because students participate in a particular SHSM because of their course selections, they really just have to take their courses as usual, and participate in some training, certification, and reach ahead opportunities when these are provided. All of these opportunities are provided at no cost to the student, except possibly food when we are away. 

Because a focussed student performs better and takes his or her education, including experiential opportunities, more seriously. Ministry of Education statistics show improved graduation rates for SHSM students from all pathways. 

SHSM Components
Every Specialist High Skills Major program must include the following five components, which are outlined in detail in individual guides for each sector...

Bundle of 8-10 Credits

Certifications and Training Programs

Experiential Learning & Career Exploration

“Reach Ahead” Experiences

Essential Skills and Work Habits/OSP 

Cooperative Education
All SHSM students are required to complete a two-credit Cooperative Education component. Although participation in the standard co-op education experience certainly qualifies, not all students need give up other valuable classroom credits in order to satisfy this requirement. Students can earn co-op credits while earning money at their after school or summer jobs. 

Sector-recognized Certifications and Training
Each SHSM has either three or four compulsory certifications which must be provided free of charge to each participating student. Certificates are added to the student’s SHSM portfolio which is provided to the student at graduation. All SHSMs certify students in:

Standard First Aid

CPR Level C

Generic (i.e. not site-specific) WHMIS

 Other required certifications:

Business:  Customer Service

Non-Profit:  Ethical Considerations

Sports:  Automated External Defibrillation (AED)

Transportation Tech:  Basic Health & Safety

Every SHSM student must also obtain between two and three elective certifications which depend on the particular SHSM, and on the availability of trainers. At PDCI, we try to get to know our SHSM students well, and search for the most interesting and useful opportunities we can find for those students. For instance, we have done our best to provide as many SHSM students as possible with Smart Serve® training, because of how incredibly useful that training is. We are also providing several of our Sports and Arts & Culture SHSM students with professional training in Wrapping and Taping for Performance and Injury. Our Visual Arts students are provided with opportunities for training in drawing of life forms. Other certifications in the 2017-2018 have included Proposal and Grant Writing, Portfolio Development, and Project Management. 

What Difference Does a SHSM Make for Students?
OCAS and OUAC now have SHSM students identify themselves through a checkbox. More and more bursary, scholarship, and residence opportunities are being offered to students who graduate with a SHSM red seal on their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. 

Want more information?
Contact PDCI’s Guidance department at (613) 267-3051 or the SHSM Program coordinator by email to [email protected].

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