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Formerly unemployed Mililani resident Brandon Askew started his new job at HMSA in December 2020. The corporate data analytics and reporting analyst credits his employment to the free training he received from the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges through Oʻahu Back to Work.

A few weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Askew was laid off from his job as a business systems analyst for the Hawaiʻi Convention Center. The avid listener of Hawaiʻi Public Radio heard about free training offered through Oʻahu Back to Work, went online to investigate and signed up that day for a class in Python programming.

Brandon Askew and family
Brandon Askew and family

“I believe it was a difference maker in getting the job at HMSA because in the job description they specifically called out Python programming language skills,” Askew said. “I felt that I had grabbed the bull by the horns at the right time to start taking a class for Python and then later finding this opportunity, that it would help me get that job.”

In August, the UH Community Colleges and the City and County of Honolulu announced the latest round of free job preparation classes for Oʻahu residents who are struggling to find employment.

Oʻahu Back to Work is a rapid response employment training program with classes that run until December 17, 2021. Instructors at seven UH Community Colleges and the UH Mānoa Outreach College are offering more than 50 classes in business and technology, healthcare, human services and trades. To learn more, view available courses, or to apply, visit the Oʻahu Back to Work website:

Providing hope

Brandon Askew
Brandon Askew

Oʻahu Back to Work provides hope. Knowing that there are people, organizations, the government that are really out there doing what they can do to help through these tough times,” Askew said.

The 50-year-old also encouraged those who may be daunted by the thought of going “back to school” after decades.

He said, “I could see there being some apprehension to taking this opportunity, but I just want to share with people that it is definitely worth the effort, and while these resources are available, we should all look to see how we could benefit from them.”

Classes still available

By September 14, Oʻahu Back to Work already had almost 400 registrants, and 400 seats are still available in a variety of workforce training that leads to immediate or near-term employment. Classes include:

  • Honolulu Police Exam Prep starting on September 27 and November 8
  • HVAC, Refrigerants and Basic Controls: EPA Exam Prep starting on October 4
  • Certified Bookkeeping starting on October 4
  • AWS Cloud Foundation starting on October 4
  • Data Analytics Basics starting on October 18
  • Security+ Training starting on October 11 and November 3
  • Commercial Driver’s License Permit Test Prep starting on November 8
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