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Specialist High Skills Major – Business

The Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in business enables students to build a foundation of sector-focused knowledge and skills before graduating and entering apprenticeship training, college, university, or an entry-level position in the workplace.

Where local circumstances allow, boards may elect to offer one or more variants of the SHSM in a given sector, each with a particular area of focus. This SHSM may be designed to have a particular focus – for example, on entrepreneurship, finance, accounting, retail, marketing, international business, economics, management and administration, or event planning. This focus is achieved through the selection of the four major credits in the bundle.

Bundle of nine Grade 11 and Grade 12 credits

These credits make up the bundle:

  • four business major credits that provide sector-specific knowledge and skills. The four courses must include at least one Grade 11 and one Grade 12 credit, and may include one cooperative education credit related to the sector. (This cooperative education credit would be additional to the two that are required in the bundle; see below);

  • three other required credits from the Ontario curriculum, in each of which some expectations must be met through a contextualized learning activity (CLA) for the business sector. For the apprenticeship training, college, and university pathways, the three credits include:
    • one in English;1
    • two in mathematics (one credit must be in Grade 12 and both credits must include a CLA)

  • For the workplace pathway, the three credits include:
    • two in English (one credit must be in Grade 12 and both credits must include a CLA)1 and
    • one in mathematics

  • two cooperative education credits that provide authentic learning experiences in a workplace setting, enabling students to refine, extend, apply, and practice sector-specific knowledge and skills.

Note: that a compulsory English credit is required in Grade 11 and in Grade 12 for graduation with an OSSD. Schools may determine whether the CLA, required

Sector-recognized certifications and/or training courses/programs

This SHSM sector requires students to complete a specified number of compulsory and elective sector-recognized certifications and/or training courses/programs, as indicated in the following table.

Note: Where an item in the table is capitalized, it is the proper name of the specific certification or training course/program that is appropriate for the SHSM. Where an item is lowercased, it is the name of an area, type, or category of training for which specific certifications or training courses/programs should be selected by the school or board. The requirements are summarized in the table below.


Four (4) compulsory

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Level C – includes automated external defibrillation (AED)

customer service

Standard First Aid

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) – generic (i.e., not site-specific) instruction


Two (2) electives from the list below

anti-oppression and allyship training

business etiquette

cash handling and register training

counterfeit detection

effective networking

equity and inclusion


ethical considerations

fraud prevention


health and safety – basic

leadership skills

negotiation training

personality inventory

portfolio development

project management

public speaking

retail representative

sector-specific software 1

specialized business program/competition (e.g., regional or provincial level DECA, Junior Achievement Company Program, Stock Market Competition, Make Your Pitch, Summer Company Program)

successful exhibiting

Experiential Learning & Career Exploration

Experiential learning and career exploration opportunities relevant to the sector might include the following:

  • one-on-one observation of a cooperative education student at a placement in the business sector (an example of job twinning)
  • a day-long observation of a business person (an example of job shadowing)
  • a one- or two-week work experience with a member of a business association or a professional in the sector (an example of work experience)
  • attendance at a retail show (e.g., a home show or craft show), conference, or workshop focusing on the business sector
  • participation in a local, provincial, or national contest or competition with a focus on business (e.g., a business plan competition or stock market competition)
  • working with a mentor within the business community (e.g., to provide assistance in creating a business plan)
  • a tour of the local chamber of commerce


Sector Partnered Contextualized Experience (SPCE)

Innovative, Creativity & Entrepreneurship Training (ICE)
The ICE training in SHSM programs will allow students to understand the world from the perspectives of others, generate new ideas, and give students the confidence to develop strategies to implement and sustain their ideas while considering the impacts and consequences their innovation has on the world around them.


Sector-delivered Contextualized Coding
(e.g. SHSM-Agriculture:  GPS, GIS, Computer-controlled Devices with Ontario Federation of Agriculture)


Sector-delivered Contextualized Mathematical literacy
(e.g. SHSM-Horticulture and Landscaping: estimating, measuring, and budgeting with Landscape Ontario)


Reach Ahead Experiences

Students are provided one or more reach ahead experiences – opportunities to take the next steps along their chosen pathway – as shown in the following examples:

  • Apprenticeship: visiting an approved apprenticeship delivery agent in the sector
  • College: interviewing a college student enrolled in a sector-specific program
  • University: observing a university class in a sector-related program
  • Workplace: interviewing an employee in the sector
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