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Ontario Helping Thousands of Additional Students Prepare for the Jobs of the Future

Expanding Access to Skills Needed for Tomorrow’s Workforce

RICHMOND HILL - York Region MPPs Steven Del Duca, Chris Ballard, Michael Chan, Dr. Helena Jazcek, and Reza Moridi are pleased to announce that Ontario is expanding two programs to help more high school students get the skills and knowledge they need for the jobs of the future and earn credits towards the next step in their postsecondary education.

This fall, the province’s Specialist High Skills Major program will be expanded to accommodate an additional 2,000 students and just over 100 new programs for the 2016-17 school year. As a result, more than 48,000 students will be enrolled in 1,835 Specialist High Skills Majors programs across the province - an innovative, high demand program that lets high school students focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests while meeting the requirements of their high school diploma.

By the end of 2016-17, all Specialist High Skills Majors programs participants will have access to an innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship module that was developed in partnership with the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. This training will encourage participants to develop innovative and creative solutions to real industry or sector-related problems – a skill is that is valued in today’s economy.

Ontario is also expanding the Dual Credit program to include 400 more students across the province next year. This program helps students earn credits that count toward their high school diploma as well as their postsecondary certificate, college diploma, degree or apprenticeship certification.

New Specialist High Skills Majors programs for 2016-2017 to include, for example:

  • Business at St. Augustine Catholic High School in Markham   
  • Hospitality and Tourism at St. Maximilian Kolbe High School in Aurora
  • Arts and Culture at Dr. G.W Williams Secondary School in Aurora
  • Health and Wellness at Dr. John M. Denison Secondary School and Milliken Mills High School respectively in Newmarket and Markham
  • Information and Communications Technology at Langstaff Secondary School in Richmondhill

Helping high school students prepare for the demands of tomorrow’s workforce is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.


“The Specialist High Skills Major program is an excellent opportunity to allow high school students to begin preparing for future apprenticeship training, college and university programs. This program offers students a chance to explore their talents, skills and passions, which can help guide them in deciding on the career path they would like to pursue upon graduating high school.”

— Reza Moridi, M.P.P., Richmond Hill   

“These programs are helping students reach their full potential by giving them an innovative, engaging and quality learning opportunity that helps them focus on a career path, while meeting the requirements of their high school diploma.”

— Steven Del Duca, M.P.P., Vaughan

“The Specialist High Skills program is a great way for high school students to focus on a career path that inspires them while working on their high school diploma.  This program is one of many ways the province of Ontario is helping to secure the future of the next generation of students in Newmarket-Aurora, and across the province.  This program will help them build a better future, not just for themselves, but their families and communities as well.”

— Chris Ballard, M.P.P., Newmarket-Aurora

“I am pleased to see that more students in my riding of Oak Ridges-Markham will benefit from the expansion and enhancement of the Specialist High Skills Major Program.  These programs are helping more students graduate and gain the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to succeed now, and in the future.”

—  Dr. Helena Jaczek, M.P.P., Oak Ridges – Markham

“The success of the Specialist High Skills Major and Dual Credit programs is a further substantiation that our government’s renewed vision for publicly-funded education in Ontario and strategy for student success is on the right track.  Youth in Markham-Unionville will now have more access to proven programs that will help them customize their school experience, graduate and reach their full potential in an increasingly competitive, globally-connected and technologically-driven world.”

— Michael Chan, M.P.P., Markham-Unionville

“The Specialist High Skills Majors program is helping students see connections between their studies, the world beyond high school, and their future careers. By expanding the program, we’re helping more students gain the competitive edge they will need to succeed now and in the future.”

— Liz Sandals, Minister of Education



Student Success programs

Specialist High Skills Major available in Ontario schools

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