HONOLULU (KHON2) — From healthcare, culinary and skilled trades, issues with workforce shortages are being felt across the board.

“Many of them have reached out to us to say they want to hire our students and our graduates,” said Interim Chancellor of Honolulu Community College Karen Lee.

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What started out as an idea sparked from the pandemic is now a new program that aims to streamline students into high demand industries.

“With Hana Career Pathways we’re focused on three main industries that include healthcare, IT and skilled trades and we’re really trying to upscale the future of our students and future employees so they can enter the workforce prepared and ready to go,” Lee said.

Hana Career Pathways offers free short-term training classes that lead to paid internships and interview with employers. Other fields in the program include air conditioning, commercial driver license prep and carpentry.

Students said the program is two fold — it provides more workers and gets their career started faster.

“This program is really good, because it helps us with the math and learning safety,” said Chaz Dela Pena, HCC carpentry pre-apprenticeship student. “It really gets you a step ahead in the union when you go into a real apprenticeship so it’s a really great program and I’m grateful to be in here.”

The pandemic has taken a toll not just on employers, but enrollment at University of Hawaii community colleges in fall 2021 were down 3.2%. With Kapiolani and Honolulu Community Colleges they saw about 4% to 5% drops. UH said economic challenges are to blame.

“I think many of our students have been taken away and are working and we’re glad for their families,” said Lee. “We are realizing however the need for the new education, the new skills for industries that we don’t even know about yet. So we really encourage more people to come back to school.”

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To learn more about Hana Career Pathways, click here.