Even though tourism is up and unemployment is low, many of our residents are living paycheck to paycheck, one health emergency or car repair away from a crisis. Some people may have two or three jobs to make ends meet. The challenge is not just creating jobs, it’s about creating QUALITY jobs and the training to go with them. That’s why I’m working to transform our economy to give residents a diversity of employment opportunities that pay higher wages and lead to a better quality of life.
We’re tackling another quality of life issue, and that’s traffic congestion. I have three goals: get projects done quickly, get them done inexpensively, and get them done with minimal impact to the environment. From zipper, shoulder lanes and other contraflow to safety around our public schools and truck-only routes, we are going to where the problems are. We’re reducing back-ups and bottlenecks – in West and Windward Oʻahu, Kahului, Lahaina, Līhuʻe, Hilo, Kona and other communities across the state.
We all dream of our children succeeding here in Hawaiʻi. With my three children on the mainland, I know firsthand how hard it is to have them an ocean away. My personal goal — the goal to which I have dedicated my service as governor — is creating a Hawaiʻi that gives our children the CHOICE to live here. It is not acceptable to me that many of our kids are essentially becoming immigrants in other places because we don’t have the opportunities here in Hawaiʻi.
While there is more to do, I am proud of what we have accomplished together. We have more Early College programs so high school students can earn college credits, saving families money and making it easier to earn degrees. We expanded campuses and offer more courses at UH West Oʻahu and Pālamanui. Hawai‘i’s Promise scholarships help pay for the costs of attending UH community colleges.
We must prepare our young people for jobs in this sector and that means supporting STEM education, focusing on science, technology, engineering and math. The good news is that it is expanding at all levels. The University of Hawaiʻi is one of the leaders in this work, with the Mānoa campus increasing its STEM graduates by more than a third in recent years and the community colleges tripling their numbers. Helping to train students in our schools and adults in our workforce are partners like DevLeague, a computer programming and coding academy, founded by two local software engineers, Russel Cheng and Jason Sewell. Together with the DOE and private foundations, they are teaching students advanced coding and cyber security.
To be sure that workers in Hawai‘i’s existing industries aren’t left behind, we’ve made available a wide variety of vocational training opportunities through the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. These programs match training with current job openings in fields ranging from computer science and shipyard welding to banking and food safety. And within state government, as we ride the wave of modernization, we remain fully committed to retraining every worker to use the new computer systems and technology tools. Technology helps us be more responsive to the public we serve.