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The University of Hawai'i System is vital to the state's economy in terms of ensuring a well-qualified workforce for the state but also as a contributor to that state economy through job creation based on its research and innovation activities. The UH System goal is to create more high-quality jobs and diversify Hawai'i's economy by leading the development of a $1 billion innovation, research, education, and training enterprise that addresses the challenges and opportunities faced by Hawai'i and the world.

The UHCC System plays a critical role in building the mid-level technical workforce in virtually all sectors of Hawai'i's economy and in creating rapid response solutions to specific work force needs, to ameliorate workforce dislocations, to provide pathways into living wage jobs at both the technical and baccalaureate level for Hawai'i residents, to provide skill upgrades for incumbent workers, and to provide second chance educational opportunities for individuals who may have left the workforce or who wish to change or advance in their careers. The UH Community Colleges carry out this workforce mission through a variety of degree and certificate programs linked to local industry and through short-term training and certificates often delivered through non-degree and non-credit methods.

In developing these training programs, the UH Community Colleges must design programs to support and link the outcomes to existing and emerging jobs within Hawai'i's economy, ensure that students have the necessary technical and soft skills to be successful in those jobs, and to also educate students to be able to adapt to and advance in what is a rapidly changing workforce and new opportunities. Students must understand clearly what the structured pathways are to the credential but also the employment opportunities and earnings potential that the credential provides. Students must also understand clearly how and whether the credential leads to further education and further advancement through laddered programs and career advancement. Finally, the UH Community Colleges need to know whether their students are finding jobs, are performing well in those jobs, and advancing over their careers.

While elements of this type of workforce system already exist, this plan outlines a strategy to develop a more robust workforce planning and management system while at the same time committing the UH Community Colleges to developing and delivering degree and certificate programs in already identified emerging workforce areas such as cyber security, information technology, and big data, sustainability and emerging green jobs, sustainable agriculture, biotechnology, medicine, engineering, digital media, and other high tech occupations.

Developing a Robust Workforce Planning and Management System
A new planning and management system will be implemented by 2016 and refined over the next several years. The new system will have the following characteristics:

  • The tool will be economic sector based and will include each of the workforce sectors within Hawai'i that have links to educational programs within the community colleges. The sectors will be aligned with state workforce and economic development planning, including private sector planning efforts such as those of the Business Roundtable, Chamber of Commerce, and the Economic Development Alliance.
  • The system will include information on workforce demand, skills, credential, and/or certification requirements, and earnings potential in each sector and will be informed by examining:
  • Labor market information including real-time job openings and analysis;
  • Planning documents from state and counties on economic development strategies and their related e-workforce requirements;
  • Wage earning information including information from the State Longitudinal Data System;
  • Student interest, enrollment, and graduation data; and
  • Focused consultation and consultation with Public/Private Working Groups to help analyze the trend data and its implications for program development and delivery.
  • The analysis will be carried out at both at the state and county level.
  • The UHCC programs, both credit and non-credit, as well as baccalaureate program offerings, will be mapped against the sector categories. One model for such a mapping is based on the sectors visualization work of the Colorado Community College system.

    The results of this system will be used to frame discussions about whether the educational and training program mix throughout the system properly represents the demand as well as the regional needs for programs. Data from the system can be shared with students about the employment and wage earning potential for programs, with academic program managers to help with aligning employment skills, credentials, and demand with existing programs within the UH Community Colleges, with academic administrators and faculty planning new programs, and with policy makers on the gaps or discontinuities that may exist between desired economic conditions and the UHCC offerings.

Creating a Better Understanding of the Economic Value-Added Measure of Community College Credentials
In order to better assess the economic value-added measure of programs offered and completed by students, the UHCC system will develop a tracking system to fully understand employer needs, graduate placement, graduate earnings and advancement, and needs for further education and training. The current job placement and student follow-up systems are inconsistent in providing accurate information about student employment and wage earning after graduation or transfer.

The new tracking system will build on the State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) to obtain information about student employment, earnings, and wage growth after graduation. The SLDS information will be supplemented by other post-graduation follow-up through:

  • Student job placement information;
  • Alumni contact and social media;
  • Faculty knowledge of student placement; and
  • Direct contact with employers and former students.
The system will focus on obtaining not only wage and earning data but also student and employer satisfaction with the technical skills, soft skills, and other readiness for the positions the student enters. The intent is also to develop a long-term relationship with the students so that they would seek to re-enter community colleges for future education or workplace skill enhancement.

Increase the STEM Workforce
Both the UH innovation agenda and the state's economic planning target a significant growth in STEM-related jobs. The UH Community Colleges provide both mid-level technician training in these areas and a pathway for students seeking baccalaureate or higher education in STEM fields.


  • Increase the number of STEM graduates in STEM related Associate Degree and Certificate of Achievement programs and in UH awarded baccalaureate degrees in STEM to UHCC transfers by 5% per year for the first three years and 6% per year for the next three years.
  • Eliminate any gaps in STEM graduation for Native Hawaiian, Filipino, Pacific Islander, and Pell recipient students.

STEM Graduates at UH Community Colleges and to Former UHCC Students at UH 4-Year Institutions

STEM Graduates Total
  FY 14 FY 15 FY 16 FY 17 FY 18 FY 19 FY 20 FY 21
HAW 47 49 52 54 58 61 65 69
HON 99 104 109 115 121 129 136 145
KAP 166 174 183 192 204 216 229 243
KAU 14 15 15 16 17 18 19 20
LEE 91 96 100 105 112 118 125 133
MAU 47 49 52 54 58 61 65 69
WIN 26 27 29 30 32 34 36 38
UHCC 463 486 510 536 568 602 639 676


  • Automate the Structured Pathway Project and use results to make pathway experiences seamless throughout system; adopt new counseling strategies to place students on pathways, assess student capacity for success on chosen pathway, help student make a new pathway decision if needed.
  • Create specific pathways into baccalaureate programs in data science and cybersecurity, biotechnology, engineering, physical sciences, and other demand fields, using meta majors such as the Associate in Science in Natural Science (ASNS) degree where appropriate.
  • Extend the pathways to Department of Education (DOE) STEM initiatives.
  • Increase student STEM readiness and success through summer bridge programs and calculus readiness approaches.
  • Increase field based activities and undergraduate research opportunities as a way to engage students in STEM education.
  • Identify strategies using distance and hybrid education to allow students from neighbor island and small O'ahu campuses to pursue STEM careers.