Maui offers a dedicated, well-trained workforce. More than 85 percent are high school graduates, 26 percent are college graduates, and a further 20 percent are attending, or have attended, college. Maui’s 32 public and 21 private schools are supplemented by the University of Hawaii’s UH-Maui College, which provides degree and certificate programs as well as continuing education opportunities.
In preparing the workforce for successful careers in 21st century businesses, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs are provided by many of Maui’s high schools as well as MCC. Maui’s workforce also has access to such centers of technological excellence as Chaminade University, the University of Hawaii (UH) and UH College of Engineering (with an enrollment of 900), and the UH Computer Science Department.
Maui Economic Development Board’s Women in Technology project is a workforce development initiative founded in 1999 with the purpose of building and strengthening the education-to-workforce pipeline by encouraging girls, women, and other underrepresented groups into STEM careers. This program is funded in part through a partnership with the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and Agriculture, and has successfully brought a whole new generation of highly-skilled workers into technology and other economic sectors throughout Hawaii.
Another MEDB initiative is the Ke Alahele education fund, a program created by business partners to provide scholarships, internships, curriculum development, equipment, and training opportunities to school projects and students in support of science and technology education. The mission of the program is to inspire bright, motivated homegrown students and to attract them to lucrative positions in a skilled 21st century Maui workforce. Other STEM projects promoted by MEDB include Tech Careers Day for Maui high school students, the Excite Camp for middle school students (especially Native Hawaiians and girls), and the High Tech Maui Holiday Job Fair held every December. In addition, MEDB also promotes STEM projects such as Geotech, a statewide initiative to integrate geospatial technology (GPS and GIS) into school curricula, and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day held each February in conjunction with National Engineering Week.
The County of Maui, through its Office of Economic Development (OED) is actively involved in augmenting public and private initiatives to provide timely, industry-driven skill training and development. In addition to supporting and helping fund MEDB initiatives, OED supports Project EAST (a national project-based program that integrates technology into high school curricula) in Maui’s schools and funds course offerings at Maui Community College for subjects in high demand, such as computer science. OED also administers the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) on a local basis, together with an advisory board composed of a majority of private sector representatives.
State initiatives such as the Hawaii Workforce Development Council, administered by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, share the mission to promote a globally competitive workforce that meets business needs and fills employment opportunities.
Employment in Maui’s technology sector grew almost 20 percent between 2002 and 2007 (at an annual rate of 3.7 percent), outperforming the statewide (and national) average. By 2007, an estimated 163 technology companies were operating on Maui, with a total workforce of 1,886, or almost 2 percent of the total workforce; the average tech company on Maui has 12 workers. While many of the sector’s jobs are concentrated in the information, communications, and defense/aerospace markets, environmental sciences, agricultural biotech, ocean science, and renewable energy were additional technology markets playing a significant role in this impressive growth.
Overall, the largest employment sectors of Maui’s economy are tourist-oriented businesses (accommodation and food services, including arts and entertainment); education, health, and social services; retail trade; and professional, scientific, and administrative services. In terms of occupational rankings, management and professional occupations account for 29 percent of the workforce, followed by service occupations (26 percent), sales and office occupations (23 percent), construction and maintenance (10 percent), and transportation (9 percent).