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

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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

Ministry of Education

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. 

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.

Quick Facts

  • The Specialist High Skills Major program was awarded the Gold Innovative Management Award from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada in 2013.
  • Students can choose to explore their skills in 19 different sectors including environment, health and wellness, and transportation to help them prepare for apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace.
  • Ontario has offered Specialist High Skills Majors programs since 2005 and 165,000 student have been enrolled. The program has been expanded over the last 10 years.
  • This fall, 22,800 students will be participating in Dual Credit programs at school boards and colleges of applied arts and technology – this represents 400 additional students compared to last year.
  • The new Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Strategy Expert Panel is developing a strategy to help the province’s workforce adapt to the demands of a technology-driven economy.
  • In 2015, the five-year high school graduation rate was 85.5 per cent, which is more than 17 percentage points higher than the 2004 rate of 68 per cent.
  • Ontario is helping more students achieve excellence in numeracy through its renewed math strategy.

Additional Resources


“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

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Education and Training