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Liberal Leader Iain Rankin spent Sunday in Sydney, N.S., as he announced the “transformational” skills and training platform his party promises to implement if it wins the upcoming general election.

The platform — the third plank of the party’s overall five-part proposed plan — is a key segment of his proposal to drive economic recovery and growth as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Rankin said in his home area of Cape Breton.

At the centre of the platform is a nearly $78 million investment in the Nova Scotia Community College over four years to train and educate the province’s residents for jobs.

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The investment will add 800 new seats to programs in residential construction trades, environmental stewardship and health care and a quarter of them will be at the Marconi Campus in Sydney, which is now being relocated to the community’s downtown.

“Its steel mill was a North American leader but times change and we must change too,” Rankin said of the community. “We need to energize Sydney and bring back the greatness that we had.”

New seats, 6,000 of them, will be added to the college’s short courses for skills and certification upgrades.

The new funding will also “modernize” the college’s tuition structure, allowing students to pay per course.

“We really want to make sure that with the recovery effort that it’s fair and all Nova Scotians really have the opportunity to succeed,”' Rankin said.

Funding under the Liberals will also include $3.75 million over three years to fund 150 co-op placements of four months each, as well as $1.3 million over four years to fund up to 35 projects to help businesses ensure their workplace is equitable and inclusive. Businesses can also expect another $100,000 annually for three years to help the NSCC provide them with training in green technology and digital solutions.

The investment will help connect Nova Scotians with the expertise needed to fill positions in areas including construction, health and information technology, Rankin said.

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And the investment is setting aside over $720,000 to the college to provide training in the digital sector to Mi’kmaq and Indigenous students.

The Nova Scotia 41st general election is scheduled for Aug. 17.

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