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Tag: Workforce Development

Chancellor Straney gives talk on UH Hilo’s impact on the local economy

Chuck Erskine (left), vice president of Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Economic Development Committee introduced Chancellor Straney. Mr. Erskine is assistant vice president and area manager for the Waimea Branch of First Hawaiian Bank.

University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney gave a presentation today to local business leaders on UH Hilo’s impact on the economic life of Hawai‘i island. The luncheon event, held at Restaurant Encore in Hilo, was sponsored by the Economic Development Committees of the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawai‘i.

Local business leaders listen to Chancellor Straney’s presentation.

Chancellor Straney’s talk, entitled, “Toward a Vibrant Economy for 21st Century Hawaii,” focused on UH Hilo’s role in the Hawai‘i island economy as a thriving enterprise creating thousands of jobs, generating millions in revenues, and developing educational and outreach programs in answer to island and state needs.

“We’re an island that has some special economic needs that universities and community colleges are supposed to help address,” says Chancellor Straney. “The need for post secondary education is strong, both in preparation for people to enter the workforce, and preparation for people to create and develop careers. Hawai‘i Community College and UH Hilo are poised to serve the county extremely well.”

View PowerPoint.  

Editorial by Chancellor Straney in Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Preparing students for the future

An editorial by University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney was published today in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Island Voices” section:

UH Hilo anticipating job trends to prepare students for future
By Donald Straney
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 14, 2012

The Associated Press recently reported a disturbing challenge facing new college graduates: They are being forced to take low-wage positions in a dismal job market. Prospects for good employment have fallen to the lowest level in a decade, and young adults with bachelor degrees are increasingly “scraping by” in low-wage jobs.

“Only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree or higher to fill the position — teachers, college professors and accountants,” said the report, based on an analysis of national data.

National trends are not always reflective of individual states. A report by Complete College America states that by 2020, 68 percent of jobs in Hawai‘i will require a career certificate or college degree, but currently only 41 percent of adults have a college degree. By the end of this decade, then, we’ll need to increase the number of college graduates to fill these positions. We simply will not have enough skilled workers to meet the needs of our economy without many more college graduates.

We at the University of Hawai‘i are keenly aware that our state needs a professional workforce to fill the urgent skills gap in a number of fields. They include business and teaching, as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

UH is preparing students in these fields. For example, one of the most urgent challenges locally is in rural health care. Four of the most recently approved degrees at UH Hilo are in health care, including a doctor of nursing practice program, which will start in August 2012.

Studies show job opportunities are often greater for graduates with degrees in science, education and health fields. While that may be true, degrees in humanities, social sciences and related fields are viable pathways to careers in Hawai‘i. We live in a place that values art, music, dance, writing, language, teaching, culture revitalization and other humanities fields — and there are jobs in these sectors.

For example, graduates from UH Hilo’s performing arts program find good jobs as teachers, managers, performers, directors and producers. Graduates from our Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language become teachers in immersion schools, radio personalities, community college instructors, and recording artists. ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, a Hilo-based and nationally recognized nonprofit model for Native American language revitalization programs, is staffed by many graduates of this college.

Valuable experience comes via hands-on learning in internships, collaborative research with professors, and community service. Members of UH Hilo’s Model United Nations Team, for example, have gone on to law school and become attorneys. The team competes annually in national competition and this year captured the highest honor as Outstanding Delegation.

Our nation desperately needs more well-paying jobs for college graduates. UH Hilo is a step ahead of the trends, preparing students now for the future. Our nursing, teaching, computer science, pharmaceutical sciences and other key programs are strong and growing. Interdisciplinary STEM programs — astronomy, math, chemistry, biology and more — make our graduates much more flexible in taking advantage of limited opportunities. Our humanities disciplines are in sync with Hawai‘i’s need for professionals in culture and the arts, language, and communications. Internships, research projects, and community projects give graduates the experience and connections that get them noticed and hired.

Our kuleana, or responsibility, is to improve the quality of life of the people of Hawai‘i, the Pacific region and the world. The national trends on diminishing employment opportunities are disturbing, but we are working hard to counter those trends to create a productive future for our island and state.

Donald Straney is chancellor of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: February 2012

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce

February 2012

UH Hilo and the state collaborate on energy and food sustainability

Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce LogoOne of the goals in the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s new Strategic Plan is to foster a sustainable environment on campus, one that gives students, faculty and staff the best possible place in which to study, work and live. One of the key components of this sustainability goal is responsible stewardship for Hawai‘i’s precious natural resources by providing leadership in recycling, sustainable resource use, food production, “green” building design, and use of renewable energy sources on campus.

We already are making great strides in these objectives with the installation of photo voltaic on several of our buildings and promotion of “local first” days in our campus eateries. Our newly re-formed Sustainability Committee is currently discussing new initiatives on energy and recycling. During winter break, our campus community participated in our Green Days initiative, in which many facilities and offices on campus were closed, saving $68.5 thousand in energy costs.

A statewide initiative that dovetails in part with UH Hilo’s sustainability goals is the work of the Hawai‘i EPSCoR Statewide Governance Committee, of which I am co-chair. EPSCoR is a multi-million dollar federally-funded statewide initiative called the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Taking the lead from Governor Abercrombie’s “A New Day in Hawai‘i” roadmap, in which the governor emphasizes the urgent need to infuse technology and innovation into the economy, the EPSCoR committee is providing leadership for development of the Hawai‘i Statewide Science and Technology Strategic Plan. The committee recently drew up a proposed guide, “Sustaining and Improving Quality of Life for a Prosperous Hawai‘i: A Statewide Framework for Science and Technology,” including a section on energy and food sustainability.

The plan, still in draft form, is meant for state and local governments, businesses, and the education sector and “provides a pathway for sparking conversations and actions that will bring to bear the latest knowledge and technology to grow, diversify and strengthen a resilient state economy, and improve the overall quality of life for Hawai‘i residents.” The plan advocates four key objectives: 1) strengthen the sci-tech talent pool; 2) foster synergies between Hawaii’s sci-tech businesses and institutions; 3) advance sci-tech for a healthy state; and 4) invest in sci-tech for a resilient, sustainable island state.

Objective 4 addresses the current model in which the state imports 90% of its energy (through oil) and 85% of its food need; the EPSCoR committee expresses concern that Hawai‘i is therefore exposed to increased risks relating to energy and food supplies. “Investment in scientific and technological research to help Hawai‘i produce more of its own energy and food for domestic use and exportation will help to ensure that the state is protected,” the draft plan states.

I’ve placed as one of my priorities the advocacy of initiatives that bring us closer to a truly sustainable campus, island, and state. Governor Abercrombie’s New Day roadmap, UH Hilo’s strategic plan, and EPSCoR’s draft sci-tech guide all encourage discussion and collaboration to advance the objectives I’ve discussed above. In last month’s column, I wrote about convening the first UH Hilo Community Vision Summit with leaders from our local community—representatives of education, health, technology, business, local government, and community non-profits. Among the most prevalent topics at the summit was UH Hilo’s focus on energy and agriculture. “UH Hilo has to focus on the new trends where jobs are and communicate this to the community,” said one participant. “This will produce the ‘fire in the belly’ for motivation in education.”

More community vision summits are planned for the near future. I look forward to working with the chamber and its members to advance sustainable initiatives and practices for the benefit of our island and state.

For more news from the Office of the Chancellor, visit my blog.

Don Straney

Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: January 2012

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce

January 2012

UH Hilo hosts Community Vision Summit 

First, I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year! I know we all greet 2012 with optimism, looking forward to a bright and prosperous year—but also keeping our eyes wide open to the challenges of the here and now.

One of our accomplishments in 2011 was the university ‘ohana and surrounding local community working together to develop UH Hilo’s new strategic plan (see The long term plan gives us a pathway to the future and guides us as we start 2012, placing strong emphasis on our kuleana, our responsibility, to improving the quality of life for our island’s people and our local community as a whole. One of the ways to honor this commitment is to strengthen partnerships and collaborations, share our understanding, and work together with the community to discover innovative ways to educate our citizens and grow our economy.

In early December, I invited 27 leaders from our community—representatives of education, health, technology, business, local government, and community non-profits—to convene for a Community Vision Summit. The discussions were lively and fruitful, focusing on the strategic directions of UH Hilo in the coming years. The group talked about their shared vision of our island’s future, and how to build two-way relationships to reach our common goals.

Working together, the participants provided helpful guidance about the university’s role in strengthening our community. The importance of UH Hilo’s role in the P-20 education system was emphasized. There was a great sense of people wanting to work together to provide education and life-long learning opportunities matched to workforce development needs. In addition, emphasis was placed on undertaking research and development relevant to the people, environment, and culture of our island and state.

The discussion identified three key areas where UH Hilo could have the biggest impact on improving the quality of life on our island:

  1. Be a Catalyst for Local Economic Development. Participants highlighted the role that UH Hilo should play in building connections with local industries that could let students apply what they are learning to the workplace. Participants recommended that this can be achieved by the university educating and training local students to move into the island’s growing industries in health care, energy, agriculture and information technology.
  2. Bridge Our Island’s Multiple Sectors. A focus of discussion was the role that UH Hilo can play as a champion for dialogue and discussion between multiple sectors. Participants recommended the university develop an economic engine and model that is rooted in the culture, values, traditions and community of the island, one that connects the university, K–12 education, industry, community, and policy. Participants also recommended public-private partnerships that enhance applied learning with feeder programs, where opportunities can enhance student retention. 
  3. Strengthen Community Relationships. While bridging across sectors was identified as important, equally so was the need to strengthen and maintain such relationships over time so that UH Hilo’s continued impact occurs in partnership with the community. Particularly noted was the need for the university to actively strengthen and maintain reciprocal relationships with local businesses, government, and non-profits to empower higher education and workforce development. For example, internships with small businesses to fuel student ambition and problem-solving capacity, build entrepreneurial skills, creativity, and critical thinking.

The meeting was a great success and I appreciate the time and effort made by everyone. I was reminded that the greatest resource we have is the people of our island—when we put our minds to it, we can work together to create a bright future for our island and state. This summit is the first of a series of meetings where I plan to hear from different parts of the community about ways UH Hilo can drive local economic development, bridge our island’s multiple sectors, and strengthen the university’s relationships with the community.

The Hawai‘i island community is a vital partner in the mission of UH Hilo. We appreciate the excellent relationships that have grown strong over the years with groups like the Chamber and people in business across the island. I look forward to working with you in 2012 to create a prosperous future for the people of Hawai‘i.

Happy New Year!

Don Straney

PDF of Community Vision Summit Report 

Column by the Chancellor in Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce Newsletter: November 2011

Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce
November 2011

Strengthening Hawai‘i’s future by partnering with Hawai‘i Community College

Staff stand under the sign at the Hālaulani Project Office, located at Hawai‘i Community College’s Manono campus. The office was jointly developed by UH Hilo andHawCC to administer a cooperative grant program aimed at increasing transfers from the community college to the university. Left to right: Michele Padayao, program specialist, Hālaulani-HawCC; Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, program coordinator, Hālaulani-HawCC; Loke Brandt, peer mentor, UH Hilo anthropology major; Kainoa Ariola, grant partner and interim director at UH Hilo Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center.

I recently read a report by Complete College America stating that by 2020, 68% of jobs in Hawai‘i will require a career certificate or college degree, but currently only 41% of adults have a college degree. The gap: 27%. For a strong economy, the report states, the skills gap must be closed. We simply will not have enough skilled workers to meet the needs of our economy unless many more college and university students graduate.

One way the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is addressing this challenge is by collaborating with Hawai`i Community College (HawCC). Most importantly, we are working together to examine ways to facilitate seamless transfers between the campuses—for example, by giving students roadmaps to use when they begin their college education at HawCC, they will have a plan on how to achieve baccalaureate degrees at UH Hilo.

One collaborative initiative is the Degree Pathways Partnership program, where HawCC students who opt for the program can be accepted to select UH Hilo programs while still attending the community college. The program increases student access toward attaining a higher degree and gives students optimum access to support in achieving their higher education goals, for example advising from both HawCC and UH Hilo faculty to keep students on track.

Two UH Hilo degrees currently offered in the HawCC-UH Hilo pathways program are Administration of Justice and Business Administration. Currently in discussion for the pathway program are HawCC’s Digital Media Arts degree, which would lead into UH Hilo’s BA in Art, and HawCC’s Tropical Forest Ecosystem and Agroforestry Management program leading into UH Hilo agricultural degrees.

In addition to working collaboratively on increasing student transfers and higher degree attainment, UH Hilo and HawCC are also working on professional development programs to increase faculty and staff knowledge and awareness of Hawaiian perspectives. This type of professional development will strengthen our ability to fully support Native Hawaiian students as they complete their higher education with a degree that makes them competitive in the job market. As this column goes to press, UH Hilo and HawCC are launching the jointly sponsored ‘Aha‘aha Leadership Summit to be held in Oct-Nov and designed to boost faculty and staff skills as leaders in higher education within a cultural context.

To address the future needs of our economy, both campuses view our partnership as an important component in being able to successfully provide higher education to the people of the island.