Ontario announces expansion for Specialist High Skills Major program

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TORONTO – In the lead-up to National Skilled Trades and Technology Week, Stephen Lecce, minister of Education, announced a record-level investment to support expansion of the province’s Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program to include an additional 122 new programs aimed at encouraging more high school students to enter the skilled trades. 

It is estimated that by 2021, one in five new jobs in Ontario will be in trades-related occupations, with employers already facing a shortage of workers in key sectors. 

“We know that a labour market shortage exists today and will rise over time in the high-paying skilled trades,” said Minister Lecce. “My top priority is to ensure students get the skills they need and, by investing in the skilled trades, our government is helping more students gain the competitive edge and job prospects they deserve.” 

“Our students need the skills and training necessary for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Ross Romano, minister of Colleges and Universities. “By offering programs like dual credits, students are not only gaining these skills, but doing so in ways that accelerate their careers and address employment gaps in Ontario quickly and efficiently.”

“It’s crucial we show young people that jobs in the trades are good-paying, exciting and very fulfilling,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “By expanding the Specialist High Skills Major, students will learn about a variety of career paths through early and ongoing exposure and that’s fantastic news for students across our province.” 

Through SHSM, high school students can choose from an additional 122 new programs within 19 different sectors, including construction, agriculture and mining. This high-demand program lets more students have greater choice in finding a career that matches their skills and interests, while also meeting the requirements of their high school diploma. 

“Today’s announcement is great news for students, employers and young women who might be considering careers in the skilled trades,” said Jill Dunlop, associate minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “If we’re serious about addressing the skilled labour shortage we must actively recruit, train and mentor young women in the trades. Expanding the SHSM program is an important step forward.” 

For the 2019-20 school year, the province’s SHSM will be expanded to include 122 new programs with a focus on the skilled trades. As a result of the program expansion, it is estimated that more than 54,000 students will be enrolled in over 2,100 SHSM programs in more than 700 secondary schools across the province.