Ka‘ana Mana‘o: Career and technical programs attracting more students

What’s the shortest path to a job that pays a living wage on Maui? You might be surprised that the answer is often in Career and Technical Education programs at the University of Hawaii Maui College.

The programs are attracting more students and training them to fill positions in local industries that often have to seek candidates from off island and out of state.

The college offers a wide variety of career and technical degrees, all developed with the local economy in mind.

Interested in a health care career? Our Allied Health program offers nursing, dental hygiene and dental assisting degrees and is developing a new health navigator certificate to serve the aging residents. The hospitality industry is certainly a large employer, and we offer a culinary arts degree for aspiring chefs. (The Bravo Channel’s “Top Chef” contender Sheldon Simeon graduated from our Maui Culinary Academy.) Our culinary program also is working with local partners to create a new Food Innovation Center, a business incubator that would provide space and equipment for research, development and small-scale production of value-added food products.

Our hospitality and tourism degree prepares students for careers as tour, concierge and front office professionals, and they get hands-on experience through internships or in Hotel Ha, the college’s emerging teaching hotel/laboratory.

Business degrees are a popular option for students to learn about entrepreneurial business planning, marketing, financial accounting and macroeconomics to pursue a career in business or launch their own. Our electronic and computer engineering technology program leads graduates to high-tech careers as network administrators, electronic technicians and Windows/Unix system administrators.

Defining the skill sets needed in today’s economy is a continually evolving process. The college works closely with business and community partners to help update the Career and Technical Education curricula to meet industry standards.

Our dental program is training students to use iPads to present their portfolio, display their competencies and clinic assessments to prospective employers and to teach patients about oral health. They also help provide dental services to uninsured and under-insured Maui County residents through the Maui Oral Health Center. The recent acquisition of digital dental radiography equipment ensures that they are trained in this industry standard equipment, which is rapidly replacing traditional film X-rays for dental examinations.

Our automotive technology program was the first in the UH System to introduce students to the new challenges presented by hybrid electric vehicles, including how to safely disable electrical systems. The college’s New Farmers Network is a program for students in sustainable tropical crop management that teaches them about agricultural lease options, business and production plans and potential sources of funding so that they’re able to start their own successful agricultural business after graduation.

All Career and Technical Education students need to master cutting-edge technical skills as well as employability skills like communication, critical thinking, working collaboratively with diverse teams, solving problems, reducing waste, adding value and adapting to change. These skills are essential to moving into management tracks and long-term career success.

Counselor Linda Fujitani notes: “We’re seeing students enroll in CTE who already have a bachelor’s degree, but weren’t able to find employment outside of entry-level jobs.”

These employability skills are also playing a larger role in preparing students for trade union jobs. The apprenticeship program at UH Maui College provides affordable, high-quality, noncredit educational opportunities to all active apprenticeship programs in Maui County. While one might not immediately think that a painter, carpenter or plumber would need collaborative, computer or problem-solving skills, long-term employment viability and upper-management opportunities depend on them.

“If you want to move up from being a construction worker to managing a construction site, you need to be able to see the bigger picture,” says apprenticeship coordinator Marvin Tengan.

Learn more about UH Maui College’s CTE programs at maui.hawaii.edu. Class registration for summer and fall starts April 1.

* Clyde Sakamoto is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka’ana Mana’o, which means “sharing thoughts,” is scheduled to appear on the fourth Sunday of each month. It is prepared with assistance from UH-Maui College staff and is intended to provide the community of Maui County information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.