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Free introductory computer classes are being offered at University of Hawaiʻi Community College campuses and public libraries throughout the state. The in-person three-hour “Digital Readiness” classes are open to all Hawaiʻi residents 18 years and older who want to improve their digital literacy. The course is designed to help those with little or no computer knowledge to obtain the skills necessary to continue learning at home or at work.

The free computer classes are part of the Workforce Resiliency Initiative, a plan to help upskill Hawaiʻi’s workforce to be ready for anything the future brings. The initiative is a partnership between the state’s Workforce Development Council, Hawaiʻi State Libraries, the UH Community Colleges and the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

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“There are so many options and opportunities for people who have digital and computer skills and so many barriers and hurdles for those without,” said Leslie Wilkins, chair of the Workforce Development Council. “Hawaiʻi must proactively address the digital skills gap we face in our islands to ensure that everyone is able to work and live life to the fullest. It’s not just about jobs and careers; it’s about the well-being of all of our communities.”

While digital literacy and computer skills have always been important, COVID-19 revealed just how critical this knowledge is for work, livelihood and day-to-day living. These skills are vital to Hawaiʻi’s workforce to recover, diversify the economy and become more resilient.

“The University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges are committed to supporting our residents in achieving their educational goals,” said Erika Lacro, UH Community Colleges vice president. “The Workforce Resiliency Initiative is part of what UH does best—to build skills for a better future.”

Registration for free classes

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Classes are being offered at Hawaiʻi Community College, Kapiʻolani Community College, Kauaʻi Community College, Leeward Community College, UH Maui College and Windward Community College.

To register for classes at a UH Community College campus near you, call (808) 235-7334.

Classes will cover the following topics and skills:

  • Creating an email account
  • Identifying computer hardware and software
  • Using the mouse and keyboard
  • Browsing and searching the internet safely

More online classes

Following the introductory class, participants will be eligible for continued learning online with Northstar Digital Literacy where they can access assessments and curriculum on:

  • Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Google Docs
  • Social media
  • Information literacy
  • Career search skills
  • Supporting K–12 distance learning
  • Your digital footprint

The World Economic Forum estimates that 70% of new value created in the economy over the next decade will be based on digitally enabled platform business models, and further projects that 42% of jobs are expected to have completely different core skill sets by 2022, in particular, digital skills.

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The desire to learn and thirst for knowledge is a part of Hawaiʻi’s history. Shortly after the first printing press was introduced to the islands in 1820, King Kamehameha III declared, “He aupuni palapala koʻu,” meaning “Mine will be a kingdom of literacy.” By the mid-1800s, Hawaiʻi had one of the highest literacy rates—more than 90%—in the world. Two-hundred years later, the Workforce Development Council is working on conveying the importance of digital literacy and strives to achieve King Kamehameha III’s goal, so the people of Hawaiʻi can thrive in how they live and work in the 21st century.

Read the Workforce Development Council’s full news release (PDF).

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