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Kaua‘i County Council encourages hiring kama‘aina for leadership roles

LIHU‘E — In its first meeting of 2023, the Kaua‘i County Council passed a resolution encouraging hiring locals for top positions.

Resolution No. 2023-20, introduced by Council Members Billy DeCosta and Bernard Carvalho, calls on companies to empower kama‘aina to advance in the workplace, and to create management training programs to help locals access top-level jobs.

The measure defines kama‘aina broadly as those “who are culturally and traditionally immersed into the lifestyle of Hawai‘i.”

As a resolution, the proposal is a goal rather than a binding policy.

“We decided it was time to promote our kama‘aina to become top-level executives,” said DeCosta. “We’ve seen administrative positions come into Hawai‘i, deal with the high cost of housing — feeling the hardship of being away from their families, experiencing a different culture, lifestyle and tradition, and sometimes picking up and moving back to where they came from. If companies spend all this money to relocate someone and within a year or two they leave, its a financial burden.”

DeCosta, a teacher at Kapa‘a High School, credited administrator training programs at the state Department of Education as examples of training programs that prioritize developing local talent.

“The Hawai‘i Department of Education has been working diligently in providing the skills of our keiki to become competitive in the workforce in becoming top leaders and administrators,” said retired state Department of Educaiton Kaua‘i Complex Area Superintendent William Arakaki in submitted testimony.

“This Resolution supports the efforts of the Department of Education and most importantly to provide opportunity for our Keiki/Kama‘aina to attain these top-level positions and sustain career
aspirations.”

Arakaki is an example of an administrator who was hired internally, beginning as a teacher at Kaua‘i High School before becoming a vice principal, principal and superintendent.

Top leadership positions are often hired from off-island, with Kaua‘i Police Department and Kaua‘i Fire Department recently looking to the mainland to fill vacant leadership roles.

Carvalho said he viewed the resolution not as closing the door on the possibility of hiring leaders from the mainland, but as opening a door to the possibility of developing more local talent.

“We’ve had people who have come out to Kaua‘i and have adapted well. But this resolution is just giving a chance for locals to get an opportunity,” said Carvalho.

The measure garnered widespread support from council members, who unanimously passed the resolution. “I’m in full support of the idea that — when you have people who are making decisions — they know the difference between Wailua and Waimea,” said Council Member Felicia Cowden.

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Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or gscrimgeour@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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