Across Windsor-Essex, local school boards, post-secondary institutions, and service provider organizations offer opportunities for students and jobseekers to connect with the local labour market through work placements, co-operative education, experiential learning, apprenticeships, placements, and more.

To learn more about what is offered by organization, you can visit their respective sites:

Which program is right for you? 

Once you’ve made the decision to enroll in a co-op program through your high school or postsecondary institution, it’s a good idea to get an understanding of the differences between each of the programs so that you can choose which one works best for you.  

Programs for Secondary Students: 

Specialist High Skills Major Program (SHSM) 

What is a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM)? 

An SHSM is a ministry-approved specialized program that allows students to focus your learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements to graduate from secondary school. It also assists in your transition after graduation to apprenticeship training, college, university, or the workplace. 

Key Benefits of a Specialist High Skills Major 

Pursuing a SHSM helps students to: 

  • Customize your secondary school education to suit your interests and talents. 
  • Develop specialized knowledge and skills. 
  • Earn credits that postsecondary educational institutions and the sector recognize. 
  • Gain sector-recognized certification and career-relevant training. 
  • Develop essential skills and work habits documented through the Ontario Skills Passport. 
  • Identify, explore, and refine career goals and make informed decisions about your future. 
  • Remain flexible, with the option to shift between pathways, should your goals and plans change. 

How is a Specialist High Skills Major recognized? 

Students who successfully complete an SHSM receive: 

  • an Ontario Secondary School Diploma with an embossed red seal 
  • an SHSM Record documenting his/her achievement. 
  • formal recognition on his/her Ontario Student Transcript 

Who is eligible? 

  • Currently enrolled grade 11 or 12 students.  
  • Students who have an idea of a sector such as tourism and hospitality, that you already know you have interest in pursuing as this course will give you the most opportunity to explore a chosen sector.  
  • Students able to complete 8-10 courses in a chosen field, with the option to complete a co-op placement component.   

How do I get involved? 

  • Contact your principal or guidance counsellor to let them know that you are interested in pursuing a specialist high skills major, they will be able to let you know which specializations are offered through your school and which options you will have for out of school co-op placements.  

Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP):  

What is OYAP? 

The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) is a School to Work program that opens the door for students to explore and work in apprenticeship occupations through the Cooperative Education program. Students have an opportunity to become registered apprentices and work towards becoming certified journeypersons in a skilled trade while completing their secondary school diplomas. 

What is Apprenticeship? 

  • An apprenticeship is a hands-on training program for people who enjoy learning by doing and earning while learning. 
  • The training provides access to well-paying jobs that demand a high level of skills, judgment, and creativity. 
  • Employers provide about 90 percent of apprenticeship training in the workplace. The remaining 10 percent involves classroom instruction on theory which is usually delivered at an approved community college or training delivery agent. 
  • Upon successful completion of the practical and in-school components, an apprentice has an opportunity to write the provincial/interprovincial exam to become a certified journeyperson in a skilled trade. 

Who is Eligible? 

  • Currently enrolled grade 11 or 12 students who are interested in pursuing a skilled trade certification after high school. 

How do I get involved? 

  • Contact your guidance counsellor to let them know that you are interested in pursuing an apprenticeship, they will be able to let you know which trades certifications you can work toward within your school and which options you will have for out of school co-op placements. 

Programs for Postsecondary Students: 

What is the Job Shadow Experience? 

The Job Shadow Experience provided through the University of Windsor provides an opportunity for students interested in a specific career option to observe a professional working in the position for a day. During this period, students have a chance to gain more understanding about the work environment and the daily activities of the position and industry their host works in. 

What will you be required to do? 

  • Research a local company, including relevant labour market information, using various online methods 
  • Learn how to apply your skills, education and training 
  • Learn professional Canadian workplace expectations 
  • Conduct at least one informational interview 
  • Follow up with at least one new network contact 
  • Reflect on your experiences 

Who is eligible? 

  • Any student currently registered at the University of Windsor 
  • Must be able to attend the mandatory orientation and reflection sessions 

What are VIP Internships? 

The volunteer internship program delivered by the University of Windsor matches students with local employers and community organizations to complete volunteer placement hours at off-campus, non-profit organizations of your choosing.  

What will you be required to do? 

  • Complete a minimum of 40 community hours. 
  • Volunteer 4-6 hours per week during the semester and spend one hour per week on professional development activities. 

Who is Eligible? 

  • Students in good academic standing can apply in your second term of study to begin your VIP experience in your third term of study (or later).   

What is the Student Work Placement Program? 

  • The Student Work Placement Program is designed to give post-secondary students across Canada paid work experience related to their field of study.  
  • The SWPP gives current postsecondary students the opportunity to engage with their field of study, graduate from their program with valuable real-world experience, and make crucial connections to employers and organizations to set them apart as a qualified candidate.   

Who is Eligible? 

To participate in a student work placement, you must be: 

  • Registered in a post-secondary program that includes work placements. 
  • Canadian citizen, permanent resident or person with refugee protection given under the law; and 
  • legally able to work in Canada according to the laws and regulations of the province or territory where you live. 

How do I get involved? 

  • There are 2 ways you can apply for work placements funded by this program: 
  • Apply directly to a student work placement. 
  • Check with your college, university, polytechnic or CEGEP to find out about work placements you can apply for in your area. 

A Pathway to Success!

Making the choice to enroll in an experiential learning program will give you the opportunity to put yourself ahead of the competition before you graduate high school. You can gain valuable, real-world experience in your chosen field that you can use to build up your resume all while working toward your high school diploma. 

If you feel that co-op is a great fit for you, reach out to your principal, or guidance counselor so that you can be connected to a placement opportunity and check out the opportunities available on our Open Doors Board here:

Please email us: with any questions/comments!