Addressing Hawaii's workforce development needs continues to be priority at UH community colleges
Community college officials present supplemental budget request priorities to LegislatureUniversity of Hawaiʻi
HONOLULU — Hawaiʻi is facing a skilled worker shortage. According to the most recent data, the aging of Hawaiʻi‘s current workforce and the growth in the economy over the past two years have resulted in approximately 29,000 jobs to be filled annually. In addition, more than half the jobs to be filled in the state over the next 10 years will require education and training beyond high school.
The University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges will play a crucial role in addressing these needs and have already focused efforts on numerous workforce development programs throughout the state. At a joint hearing held yesterday of the Senate Ways and Means and House Finance Committees, UH administrators highlighted the current programs underway and stressed the urgent need for financial support from the Legislature in order to continue and enhance programs.
"Responding to identified state needs for a diverse, competent, high quality workforce is a major aspect of the community colleges‘ mission," said UH Interim President David McClain. "The community colleges are committed to serve as the ʻopen door‘ point of access to education for Hawaiʻi‘s residents, and general fund support must be increased to properly maintain this mission. It‘s a critical investment to be made for the future of the State of Hawaiʻi."
The community colleges are requesting $2 million for workforce development initiatives. The amount includes just over $1 million to support a Rapid Response Workforce Development Training fund, a centralized pool of funds to provide immediate response in meeting employer identified workforce training needs in partnership with the community colleges, and $976,000 to support specific workforce development initiatives at the campuses.
Current successful workforce development efforts at the community colleges include:
· Honolulu CC‘s Construction Academy, a program in place at eight high schools with a goal of increasing the pipeline of workers entering Hawaiʻi‘s construction industry;
· Kapiʻolani CC‘s 21st Century career programs in business, information technology, culinary arts and hospitality, nursing and health sciences, legal assisting, English as a second language, and more, which are all strongly aligned with state economic development trajectories;
· Windward CC‘s Employment Training Center, which works actively with the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and other federal, state, city and private agencies to develop and provide short-term workforce training programs; and
· Community partnerships to enhance training in the areas of teaching, biotechnology, oral health care, early childhood education, agriculture, renewable energy, etc., at Hawaiʻi, Kauaʻi, Leeward and Maui CC.
The critical need for support of workforce development has also been recognized by the Governor, who has proposed in the executive operating budget $11.2 million for workforce development funding over and above what was requested by the university.
In addition to increased funding for workforce development initiatives, other general fund budget requests for high priority requirements at the community colleges include:
· $2.4 million to address rising utility costs;
· $1.7 million to support accreditation program review and assessment processes;
· $848,000 to support Native Hawaiian programs;
· $2.2 million to relieve UH Hilo of the financial burden of supporting Hawaiʻi Community College activities; and
· $208,000 for security support initiatives.
All of these priority areas were built upon urgent needs identified in the community colleges‘ strategic planning and program review processes.