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HALIFAX—A new bursary program offered through the Nova Scotia Community College will help women and Indigenous Nova Scotians train for jobs in the marine industry that lack qualified candidates.

Through the Oceans Protection Plan, the federal government announced Wednesday it is offering $2.5 million in bursaries for those who want to pursue careers as fishing masters, marine engineering technologists and small vessel operators, to name a few examples.

“We know that our partners across the marine industry are experiencing a skilled-labour shortage,” NSCC President Don Bureaux said in a statement. “There are more jobs than people with the skills to fill them.”

The NSCC teaches marine courses at the Nautical Institute at its Strait Area campus in Port Hawkesbury and the School of Fisheries in Shelburne, but will now expand into Indigenous and coastal communities.

Gunn said training for jobs in the marine industry is “lacking,” and the bursaries will make it more accessible.

“We’re seeing there’s a real opportunity for Mi’kmaw people and for women to get the training that they’re needing to work in that sector,” he said. “There are a lot of jobs available, a lot of very good, solid jobs.”

One of the bursaries, the Ocean Awaits award, covers up to 90 per cent of the cost of eligible courses, which are listed on the NSCC website.

The Ocean Dream award will offer up to $5,000 a year for tuition in eligible programs and up to $10,000 for the Bridge Watch Rating course. Indigenous recipients of that award may be eligible for an additional $10,500 to cover living expenses.

“We teach everything here from one-day (domestic vessel safety courses) to a four-year advanced diploma. And I think that kind of reflects the variety of jobs that are available in the marine industry,” said Cindy Brown, a professor at the Nautical Institute.