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Leeward C C students in the certified nursing assistant program
Leeward CC students in the certified nursing assistant program (file photo)

Through a highly competitive process, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has awarded more than $13 million to the University of Hawaiʻi and its partners to provide students the opportunity to develop new skills in high-demand areas. USDOE said in a release, “The recipients will leverage the expertise and facilities available on college campuses to spur entrepreneurship and foster business development and innovation as America begins to recover from COVID-19-related disruptions to education.”

UH’s grant, for an initiative called, “Hana Career Pathways,” was part of $126 million awarded from the Education Stabilization Fund of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in a competition open to all 50 states. There were only eight awardees besides UH, including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Michigan, Nevada, New York and Virginia.

“Hana Career Pathways, developed by UH, the State of Hawaiʻi Workforce Development Council, Chaminade University and other partners, builds on the momentum we have created with industry partners statewide to advance workforce development and educational planning in support of a more thriving, diverse and resilient economy for Hawaiʻi.” said UH President David Lassner. “This project will increase pathways for Hawaiʻi’s people to living-wage jobs that are currently in-demand in three resilient sectors—healthcare, technology and skilled trades.”

The project builds upon the Hawaiʻi Executive Collaborative’s Talent Roadmap to Recovery plan and reimagines workforce preparation through the Hawaiian concept of hana. Hana translates as “work,” and has significance in Hawaiian culture as the act of breathing and unleashing grace to improve the world through one’s work.

Phlebotomy practice
Kapiʻolani CC students in the phlebotomy program (file photo)

“This project provides our community with short-term educational training that can lead to micro-credentials, badging and licensing and faster to employment,” said Leslie Wilkins, chairperson for the Hawaiʻi Workforce Development Council. “Hana Pathways will provide people with business industry-aligned opportunities to advance from training programs for entry level jobs to industry-recognized apprenticeships leading to good paying jobs and career-building pathways, which will ultimately help to rebuild and rebalance our economy.”

The Talent Roadmap report also identifies high-demand occupations that should be considered for rapid credentialing efforts. The Health Care Association of Hawaiʻi recently identified certified nursing assistants and phlebotomists as occupations with shortages that could benefit from this initiative.

“Hana Pathways builds upon the momentum of pre-pandemic collaboration and planning for large-scale change for our state to thrive and to bring about a shared vision for a better Hawaiʻi,” said Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi President and CEO Hilton Raethel.

Goals for the three-year grant include achieving a median salary of participants of $38,000, having 125 local businesses host apprenticeships and establishing 15 pathways in the three targeted sectors, leading from short term training for entry-level occupations to degrees that lead to career advancement.

Other Hana Pathways partners include the Hawaiʻi Department of Education Adult Education Program, Harold K. L. Castle Foundation, Hawaiʻi P-20, Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi, Elemental Excelerator and CIO Council of Hawaiʻi.

—By Kelli Abe Trifonovitch

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