The University of Hawaii Maui College will administer and receive about a third of a $12.7 million federal grant to expand job training on the Neighbor Islands.
The money will be used for one-year certification programs for residents who are unemployed or looking to upgrade their skills, including veterans, said Susan Wyche, special projects coordinator at UH-Maui College, on Wednesday.
Programs will be developed in geographic information services, electric vehicle repair and maintenance, entrepreneurial and small business, food innovation with development of "value-added" products from fresh fruit and vegetables and food security, water and wastewater treatment and sustainability in green building and energy efficiency, she said.
The curriculum for most of these programs currently is not offered by UH-Maui College and will have to be developed, which will take six months to a year, said Wyche. The college does offer a sustainability program, so the money will be used to enhance that curriculum.
Wyche noted that there currently is no training in water and wastewater treatment and that "massive retirements" are expected in this area.
The programs probably will be online for next summer and fall semesters, she said.
The offerings will be one-year programs, presented either online or as a hybrid online-face-to-face. The programs will be offered for two years. Popular programs may be incorporated into the offerings of the college after the end of the grant term, Wyche said.
The workforce development grant with UH-Maui College and Kauai and Hawaii community colleges engaged as a consortium is a first for the Neighbor Island institutions, she said. UH-Maui College will administer the program with each institution receiving roughly a third of the grant, she said.
A total of $500 million in grants was awarded to 297 schools nationwide as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative for development and expansion of innovative training programs in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care and careers in science, technology, engineering and math, a news release said.
"These federal grants are part of the Obama administration's ongoing commitment to strengthening American businesses by strengthening the American workforce," said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
The initiative complements President Barack Obama's broader goals to help ensure that every American has at least one year of postsecondary education and that the U.S. has the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, the news release said.
The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education. All education materials developed through the grants will be available for use by the public and other education providers through a Creative Commons license, the news release said.
* Lee Imada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.