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Hawaii Community College - Palamanui Message: Supporting emerging, changing and diversifying industries

Posted in January 2017


I hope everyone has had a happy holiday season celebrating with friends and family. The transition to the New Year is a good time for reflecting on the past and looking to the future. And it’s with an eye on the future that I want to talk about one of the initiatives I plan to focus on this coming year and beyond.

With the assistance of the campus and the community, I would like to develop funding that will allow Hawai‘i Community College to support and partner with industries that are emerging, changing or diversifying.

Hawai‘i Community College, since it was founded in 1941, has played an important role in creating a trained workforce that meets the needs of local employers, whether it’s in automotive, construction, healthcare, hospitality, or another sector.

The college continues to collaborate with industry groups and partners. Several Hawai‘i Community College administrators attended the Hawai‘i Sector Summit on December 5 and 6. At the Hawaii Sector Summit, the Hawai‘i Island participants agreed to engage key leaders in the agri-products sector, including both the growers and the agri-products innovators, to develop this sector further.  

I recently joined the Hawai‘i County Workforce Development Board. Our programs continue their partnerships through their Program Advisory Councils and other industry contacts. I am fortunate to receive excellent advice from the Chancellor’s Advisory Council. And we have a strong partnership with the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce. It is through the active participation of industry leaders with the college, that we are able to explore emerging opportunities. For instance, we are constantly hearing strong interest for a mechanical technician pathway that provides core training that can then be specialized to marine science, avionics, building maintenance, auto, trades and possibly other concentrations.

For Hawai‘i Community College to be an effective partner in the process of nurturing emerging, changing and diversifying industries, we need to be nimble, timely, responsive and effective in developing workforce related programs. Often, this requires re-purposing existing resources, leveraging capacity from partners, plus tapping investment funds available for workforce development. This is similar to investments made for research and developments.  

Even if a business or entrepreneur has funding to support research, development and production of a new product, for example, they might not have funds to help develop the training at the community college to create the skilled workforce they need. With the right investment or funding, we could explore the possibility of developing curriculum, secure necessary instructional materials, equipment and space, and train new faculty or lecturers in this field.  

To act quickly and efficiently on program needs like this, I believe we need a community based  investment that could help us develop the education and training pathways that can support these opportunities.

The ultimate goal is strong industries and good jobs for Hawai‘i Island residents.


Rachel Solemsaas

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  • Posted in: January 2017