Business

Forum Explores Ways to Improve Big Island Workforce

August 16, 2016, 11:43 AM HST
* Updated August 16, 12:06 PM
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Kirstin Kahaloa and “Pohā Ka Lama: Growing Our West Hawai`i Workforce Together” forum attendees. Courtesy photo.

Over 80 attendees met at a community forum on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at Hawai`i Community College – Pālamanui to share and brainstorm ideas to better Hawai‘i Island’s workforce.

The forum, “Pohā Ka Lama: Growing Our West Hawai`i Workforce Together,” was the first of its kind to unite education and industry leaders to discuss current obstacles and viable solutions to accommodate West Hawai‘i’s growing economy.

“This event is a meeting of the minds,” said Dr. Marty Fletcher, director of the HCC – Pālamanui and the University Center, West Hawaiʻi. “A forum where leaders from business and education can come together and discuss career pathways and workforce development.”

Kirstin Kahaloa and Rachel Solemsaas at the “Pohā Ka Lama: Growing Our West Hawai`i Workforce Together” forum. Courtesy photo.

Kirstin Kahaloa and Rachel Solemsaas at the “Pohā Ka Lama: Growing Our West Hawai`i Workforce Together” forum. Courtesy photo.

Sponsored by Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, the HCC – Pālamanui and the University Center, West HawaiʻI, attendees also met with newly appointed Hawaiʻi Community Colleges Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas.

“The collaborative spirit of the West Hawai’i community is what will make us stronger,” said Solemsaas. “This event showed how the education and business sectors can come together to achieve economic sustainability and I look forward to continuing this exciting partnership.”

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KKCC’s Executive Director Kirstin Kahaloa said the chamber’s support for the community college has been part of its advocacy efforts for over 20 years. With the new campus, there is new opportunity—a reason Kahaloa gave for inspiring the Hawaiian name of the forum.

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“Pohā Ka Lama means ‘brilliance bursting forth,’” Kahaloa said. “The campus opening in its new location at Pālamanui is like the sun bursting forth at the horizon, sending the first streaks of light into the sky. As the Pālamanui name and location were selected for enlightenment, this campus is a shining beacon of brilliance that will continue to burst forth.”

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The “Pohā Ka Lama: Growing Our West Hawai`i Workforce Together” forum. Courtesy photo.

The forum was presented in conjunction with the recent release of a study on workforce needs by the chamber’s Education and Workforce Development committee. The report is available online.

During the three-hour event, committee members facilitated breakout sessions into four groups to answer questions that included what skills, courses, programs and training would help to create a work-ready employee resource.

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Answers varied from customer service, written and verbal communication, and problem-solving skills.

Courses in aeronautic and maritime technologies, plus hospitality training were suggested as possible programs the school should offer.

Participants also discussed Internships, mentorships and developing instruction through partnerships with local industries. Detailed information will be available online.

“The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce is committed to strengthening our local economy and with events such as Pohā Ka Lama,” concluded Kahaloa. “I believe we can build our West Hawai‘i workforce together.”

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