PORT HAWKESBURY: To assist more women and Indigenous learners gain access to marine industry training and careers over the next three years, the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) has launched a new initiative to reduce barriers.
Rodger Cuzner, Member of Parliament for Cape Breton–Canso announced on April 24, at the Strait Area Campus, a federal government contribution of $5.9 million to the Marine Training Program that will expand accessibility and flexibility to suit unique learner needs, and create a safe learning environment, as well as an equitable work culture, for its students.
“When we took government in 2015, we thought it was important to fight for those in this country that really haven’t been represented in many areas, especially the work force,” Cuzner highlighted. “We saw there were opportunities that most people had that were being denied in certain segments; Indigenous Canadians, women, youth, persons with disabilities, new Canadians – we weren’t seeking their faces reflected in the work force.”
Cuzner, who also serves as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour said that through this initiative, NSCC will develop new training to inspire working and learning environments that are welcoming and inclusive for women and Indigenous learners, and increase community outreach and dedicated marketing and recruitment efforts aimed at eligible learners.
“When those most challenged and those most venerable are able to succeed, I think that’s when we succeed as a country and that’s where we’re at today.”
Tom Gunn, principal of the Strait Area Campus, said the Marine Training Program is a great opportunity for women and Mi’kmaq people to start to build their careers in the marine labour force.
“There are great jobs available with Marine Atlantic, Atlantic Towing, Bay Ferries, those names that we all know – they’re all looking for mariners,” he told reporters following the announcement. “But the challenge has been for a lot of those folks trying to get into those jobs, is they have to have the training, and the cost of that training has been a barrier at times.”
Along with the $5.9 million from the federal government, Gunn said the college is putting up another 10 per cent, resulting in over $2.5 million allocated for scholarships and bursaries. Additionally, there will be an extensive marketing campaign to promote the opportunities.
“We don’t think Maritimers are aware of the career opportunities that are there, so there is going to be an extensive marketing campaign going on and an extensive recruitment campaign going on as well,” he explained. “We’re hoping to see the Nautical Institute see an increase in enrollment from people all across the Maritimes as we’re the only Marine Training School in the Maritimes, so a lot of people outside of Nova Scotia aren’t aware of what’s going on here, so that will be part of it as well.”
Gunn advised there will be a number of community-based offerings like; Fishing Master IV, Marine Emergency Duties, and Small Vessel Operator Proficiency, with the training happening right in the communities of Arichat, Wagmatcook, Membertou, and Eskasoni over the next few months.
Monica Foster, NSCC’s vice president, said at the college they believe in strong, diverse learning communities that strengthen the social and economic fabric of Nova Scotia.
“Over the last eight years, less than 10 per cent of our learners in the Marine program are female, and only five per cent are Indigenous – this needs to change,” she said. “Building bridges for women and Indigenous peoples in [the] marine training project addresses this gap. It does this by increasing access to career opportunities while also creating opportunities for employers to introduce a diverse skill set in perspective that they want and need.”
Now women and indigenous learners can apply to have 90 per cent of the costs for eligible marine courses covered. Successful applicants to eligible marine programs may apply to receive an annual bursary of $5,000 toward the tuition costs of most eligible programs. Indigenous students who receive this annual bursary may also be eligible for an additional bursary of $10,500 each year to assist with living costs.
There are two bursaries available for eligible students enrolled in marine-related certificate, diploma and advanced diploma programs; the Ocean Dream Award offers $5,000 towards tuition costs or $10,000 for bridge watch rating. Indigenous students who receive the Ocean Dream Award may apply, each year, for the Ocean Living Award to assist with living expenses up to $10,500. A third bursary, the Ocean Awaits Award, covers 90 per cent of registration fees for marine courses such as Marine Emergency Duties, Small Vessel Operator and Fishing Master IV.
The Marine Training Program is part of the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways, and reduces barriers to marine training for underrepresented groups in the marine labour force, such as women, Northerners, Inuit and Indigenous peoples.
Courses are updated regularly at www.nscc.ca/seatraining with some courses staring in June and there is more information at: www.nscc.ca/workatsea.