Hawaiʻi Workforce Development Program Seeks Local Businesses

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College students organize career fairs at the LEI program. Courtesy photo.

Hawaiʻi’s largest workforce development program is seeking local businesses to help recruit and inspire local high school students to pursue careers in the hospitality industry.

Held in partnership with the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, the LEI program of ClimbHI connects high school students statewide with local professionals in the industry to provide networking opportunities and career inspiration.

On Hawaiʻi Island, the LEI event will take place on Apr. 17 and 18 at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. Students from all high schools throughout the state, including Niʻihau, Molokaʻi, and Lanaʻi are encouraged to attend. The event will feature hotel site tours to learn about operations and employment opportunities, as well as a career fair including hotels, airlines, tour providers, restaurants and post-secondary educational opportunities.


A spokesperson for the program said ClimbHI is seeking to grow the number of participating local businesses. Business owners who are interested in supporting this program are asked to contact [email protected] for more information.

“We have seen the growth and development of high school students that have gone on to pursue college degrees in hospitality management while working part-time or interning with a hotel, when previously the student had never thought about anything beyond getting out of high school,” said Julie Morikawa, president of ClimbHI. “The LEI program opens up students minds as to what could be an amazing future right here in Hawaiʻi by encouraging them to take on new roles and responsibilities they never imagined before.”

In addition to career exposure, the LEI program also provides college students with real-world experience by having them plan and execute the career fairs as part of their coursework for classes at Hawaiʻi Pacific University, University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, and Kauaʻi Community College. Additionally, college students serve as interns with ClimbHI and high school students that have attended a LEI program can become mentors for other high school students.


“HTA is proud to support the LEI program because it supports the future of Hawaiʻi’s tourism industry,” said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority. “It’s imperative we create the pathways for Hawaiʻi’s youths to follow in tourism and the inspiration to build a career in an industry that provides them with boundless opportunities to grow, manage and develop into our next generation of community leaders. I encourage all types of businesses to join HTA in supporting the LEI program by providing Hawaii’s young people seeking direction with a reason to see tourism as their future. By encouraging them to stay home and pursue careers in travel and hospitality, Hawaiʻi will be strengthened as both a family-centered community and as a destination to welcome people from around the world.”

The LEI program was first established in 2012, and brings more than 1,000 students and 100 businesses together statewide. Visitor arrivals are expected to continue rising over the next four years, according to the Hawaiʻi Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.


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