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DOE Launches Connect to Careers Coalition

Wayne Yoshioka

A statewide coalition has joined forces to help public school students prepare for high paying jobs in Hawai’i.   HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.

The State Department of Education is launching a Connect to Careers coalition.  It’s an industry-driven community effort to provide students with pathways to high-demand jobs and careers.   Education Superintendent, Kathryn Matayoshi.

“There are tons of jobs that don’t require a 4-year degree.  We need carpenters and plumbers.  We need people in IT.  We need people in all kinds of jobs.  The one thing we don’t know as educators is what are those jobs gonna be in the future.”

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Carpenter Apprentice Program - Kapolei

High growth businesses and industry are working to identify entry-level skill sets and certifications.   Department of Labor and Industrial Relations director, Linda Chu Takayama, says these efforts are aimed at the pre-high school level.

“It’s not as if unskilled people can walk into an apprenticeship.  You do have to have certain math skills; they do give you a test; you must be drug free.  So we’re hoping that by working with the schools we can prepare some of these younger students, even in the secondary schools.”

The Harold Castle Foundation is also a coalition partner.  Alex Harris is the Foundation’s senior program officer for education.

“We’re very excited to invest $200-thousand in six high school academies across the state.  That’s part of a larger multi-year effort to put far more low income students on the pathway to success, with college credit in their back pocket and career experiences.”

Kapa’a High School on Kaua’i is an academy school and will receive 29-thousand dollars from the Castle Foundation for a Natural Resource Academy.   Kapa’a’s graduation rate is in the 90 percentile, one of the highest in the state.   Principal, Daniel Hamada, has a plan to help students beyond graduation.

“The community college will be coming to our high school team-teaching with our teachers.  If they’re interested in construction, the kids can see how it flows:  They know what math, English, what science all to take.  So it’s really relevant.”

Mark Elliot is the principal of King Kekaulike High School on Maui.  He says this effort is a game changer and a life changer.

“On Maui for instance, sugar and pineapple have recently met their demise and we have students who need careers.  Need jobs that have training and that requires specific skills that are developed and having this kind of partnership is critical for the Island of Maui and I’m sure all islands.”

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Val Tabios, Carpenter Apprentice instructor

Val Tabios oversees the 3-day carpenter apprentice screening program in Kapolei.  He has 43 years in the industry and says it’s a great job that puts food on the table.

“The apprentices start at about $18.60 an hour.  They’ll do 16-hundred hours of school and 8-thousand hours of work.  And that’s if you work 2-thousand hours a year, that comes out to 4 years.  The journeyman’s scale is $45.30 a hour and we have a total package that includes medical, vacation, retirement and other small things.”

For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.

(Connect to Careers Coalition, L-R)  Sherry Menor-McNamara, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii;  Linda Chu Takayama, Dept. of Labor and Industrial Relations;  Ron Taketa, Carpenters Regional Council;  Senator Michelle Kidani, Education Chair;  Kathryn Matayoshi, Superintendent; Leslie Wilkins, Hawaii Workforce Commission;  Edmund Aczon, Hawaii Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Fund;  Representative Mark Nakashima;  Suzanne Mulcahy, Assistant Superintendent; Terry George, Harold K. Castle Foundation 

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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