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Students learn about sectors of the economy

PO‘IPU — What was your first job? And what was the worst advice someone gave you in looking for a job?

Those were some of the questions posed to special guests Bradford Tesh and Gary Mata of Hawaiian Airlines on Tuesday during the ClimbHI Leadership, Exploration, Inspiration career event that unfolded at the Sheraton Kaua‘i Resort following delays of waiting for students to arrive due to traffic.

Tesh, in charge of Hawaiian Airlines operations in Las Vegas, and Mata, Hawaiian Airlines Lihu‘e Station Manager, are both graduates of Kaua‘i High School and attained their current status by working their way upwards.

Hawai‘i workforce development nonprofit ClimbHI partnered with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and local businesses and organizations for the 12th annual LEI program that was free to more than 150 students from the Hawaiian immersion charter schools, Waimea, Kaua‘i and Kapa‘a high schools.

“The Sheraton Kaua‘i is honored to partner with ClimbHI,” said Katie Brenner, the Sheraton Kaua‘i Resort hotel manager. “Helping guests and our community is at the heart of our business. The opportunity to inspire our future leaders to learn more about the hospitality industry is exciting and energizing, and we hope the students walk away with that same feeling.”

Volunteers from the Kaua‘i Community College help shepherd the students through the various LEI phases with the intent of demonstrating to the students that they can still attend classes while working and the possibility of advancing in their work while completing various classes.

The daylong program moderated by Palakiko Yagodich, an instructor at the Kapiolani Community College, involved James Kunani Tokioka, the director of the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and the Hawaiian Airlines representatives.

“Inspiring Hawai‘i’s students by showing them firsthand the multitude of career possibilities and pathways to success in our visitor industry right here at home is critically important to our work at HTA,” said Mufi Hannemann, the HTA Board Chair.

“Our partnership with ClimbHI and the LEI propgram helps us strengthen our state’s No. 1 economic driver for generations to come, and motivates our kama‘aina to contemplate pursuing a career in hospitality, travel, and tourism.”

With a theme of “Hawai‘i Strong,” the LEI program recognizes more than 100 students from across the state that participated in disaster response training under the Community Emergency Response Team program organized by ClimbHI in October 2023 following the Maui wildfires.

The Kaua‘i LEI program follows the Hawai‘i Island program, which was held on April 9 and 10 at The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, and the Maui LEI program held on April 4 at the Fairmont Kea Lani.

The LEI O‘ahu program will be held on April 22 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center with more than 1,000 students and 100 businesses expected to participate in the program’s 12 year.

During 2023, LEI hosted nearly 725 students from 31 high schools and seven colleges.

“Each year, our keiki continue to build valuable connections in the hospitality industry, and beyond, at LEI events, creating access to high quality career opportunities for all students in Hawai‘i,” said ClimbHI President Julie Morikawa.

“Mahalo to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, our participating businesses and organizations, and volunteers for their continued support of this program in its 12th year.”
Source: The Garden Island

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