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Specialist High Skills Major – Environment

The Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in Environment 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 environmental science or environmental studies. 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 environment 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 environment sector. The three credits include:
    • two in English;1 (one credit must be in grade 12) 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: 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 for the SHSM bundle of credits, is completed in the Grade 11 or Grade 12 English course.

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 lower cased, 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)

compass/map global positioning system (GPS)

Standard First Aid

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

Three (3) electives from the list below

advanced training in a technique (e.g., knots techniques)

animal and plant management

bear safety

Below Zero

chainsaw safety

customer service

fire safety and fire extinguisher use

geographic information system (GIS)

habitat restoration

Hike Ontario

introduction to stream assessment protocol

ladder safety training

leadership skills

Leave No Trace

life-saving (Bronze Cross or higher)

Ontario Hunter Education

paddling techniques

Pleasure Craft Operator

portfolio development

project management

Project Wild

radio operator

search and rescue

sector-specific vehicle operation and safety

species identification (e.g., fish, birds, plants, trees, small mammals)

water/ice safety

watershed management

wilderness first aid

wilderness survival

Working at Heights

soil classification and testing

anti-oppression and allyship training

Experiential Learning & Career Exploration

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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