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What is a Specialist High Skills Major?

A Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) is a Ministry of Education approved program that allows students to focus their learning on a specific economic sector, while meeting the requirement of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The program also assists students in their transition from secondary school to apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace. An SHSM enables students to gain sector specific skills and knowledge.

St. Catharines Collegiate has been approved by the Ministry of Education to offer the Hospitality and Tourism SHSM.

Profile of the Hospitality and Tourism Sector

The tourism industry presents many advantages for employees because it offers a selection of well over 400 occupations. Tourism jobs also tend to provide plenty of opportunities for advancement, widely transferable skills, and ongoing training.

The tourism industry is divided into five sub-sectors:

  • hospitality and tourism
  • accommodation
  • food and beverage services
  • recreation
  • travel services

Tourism industries are an important employment sector in Canada. In 2009, this sector accounted for 1.6 million jobs, representing 9.4 per cent of the 17.1 million jobs in Canada.2 Between now and 2025, spending on tourism goods and services in Canada is expected to grow to $201 billion, and it is estimated that 219,000 tourism jobs will go unfilled due in part to declining birth rates and an aging workforce.

What will students in the Hospitality and Tourism major study?

A bundle of nine Grade 11 and Grade 12 credits

These credits make up the bundle:

  • four hospitality and tourism 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. Schools may commit to including a contextualized learning activity (CLA) for the hospitality and tourism sector in each of the three credits. In each credit, some of the course expectations are then met through the CLA. (Schools that do not formally commit to including CLAs are still free to offer them in one or more of the credits.) The three credits include:
    • one in English;
    • one in mathematics; and
    • one in science or business studies (or a cooperative education credit related to the sector, which would be additional to the two cooperative education credits required in the bundle; see below);
  • two cooperative education credits that provide authentic learning experiences in a workplace setting, enabling students to refine, extend, apply, and practise knowledge and skills outlined in the cooperative education curriculum as well as sector-specific knowledge and skills.

-Experiential learning and career exploration activities

-Sector-recognized certifications and/or training courses/programs

-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

-Sector-partnered experiences (SPEs)

Students engage with a sector partner and apply skills to gain insight into the relationship between this sector and ICE (innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship), coding, and/or mathematical literacy.


What are the future career paths for hospitality and tourism?

For Hospitality and Tourism majors, possible careers include:

  • Apprenticeship – baker, cook, chef, special events coordinator
  • College – flight attendant, food service manager
  • University – nutritionist, dietician, hotel/resort manager
  • Entry level workplace – hotel valet, bartender