University of Hawaii Innovation Initiative

Workers Wanted

As the UH research initiative creates jobs, the community colleges train the workforce

By Kyle Galdeira
The University of Hawai‘i has received grants totaling more than $37 million for workforce training programs in key growth sectors, such as Photovoltaic Design and Installation at Maui College. Photo by University of Hawai‘i

The University of Hawai‘i has received grants totaling more than $37 million for workforce training programs in key growth sectors, such as Photovoltaic Design and Installation at Maui College. Photo by University of Hawai‘i

In addition to creating thousands of jobs, the University of Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative (HI2) is also expected to develop the workers to fill many of the new positions, through UH’s seven community colleges.

The U.S. Department of Labor awarded a $24.6 million grant in 2011 – the largest of its kind in the nation – to the University of Hawai‘i Community Colleges. The workforce development grant, known as C3T, targets three key growth sectors that are aligned with important UH research: agriculture, health and sustainable energy. The grant will help the community colleges to update the skills of workers. Several UH community colleges received a $12.7 million grant as part of the second round of funding in 2012.

“These industry-focused, employer-driven programs are geared toward the person who’s already in the workforce and is looking to retool themselves,” said Billie Takaki Lueder, director of communications for the C3T Grant. “We’re developing training specific to the three industries coupled with support services to ensure that all C3T participants are successful in whatever pathway they choose.”

Kaua‘i Community College offers a Certificate of Professional Development in Aquaponics. Photo by University of Hawai‘i

Kaua‘i Community College offers a Certificate of Professional Development in Aquaponics. Photo by University of Hawai‘i

Occupations targeted are those that are high wage and high skill, such as agricultural entrepreneurs; veterinary technicians; hybrid and electric auto maintenance technicians; renewable energy technicians and salespeople; and nurses and nurses’ aides.

Separately, UH Maui College is also offering a program called Kahikina O Ka La, which is geared toward helping students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and related fields within a Hawaiian Studies and cultural context. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of a 10-year, $20-million mitigation initiative to address the impacts of the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) being constructed on Haleakala. The program has already selected 35 students for annual performance-based stipends ranging from $3,500 to $5,000, and is currently reviewing spring 2013 applications for approximately 25 additional students.

Damien Cie, project director for Kahikina O Ka La, says, “One of our focuses is to make a complete loop – such as engineering students completing their education in the Engineering Technology program at Maui College, or transferring to either Hilo or Manoa for other degrees, and eventually returning to Maui to work on the $300-million Advanced Technology Solar Telescope or in numerous other career positions that will soon be offered through local support industries.”

Related Articles:
Kauai CC unveils off-grid aquaponics system
New farmers cultivated by GoFarm Hawaii
Aquaponics and sustainability at Kauai CC
UH consortium awarded $12.7 million for job training
Maui College leads electric vehicle alliance