Developing our Future Workforce Today

Aug. 12, 2022
By Carolyn Hyman
As a community, how are we preparing students for success after graduation? How are we developing their skills, humanity, and well-being? These are the questions that Hawaii Business Magazine Leadership Conference panelists grappled with during the breakout session, “Developing our Future Workforce Today."
The last two years haven’t been kind to students, parents, or educators. Safety precautions and disruptions at school left many children isolated and alone. But the interruption has given educators and business leaders alike the opportunity to reimagine what it means to reimagine education and development. There were a few key takeaways from the session that could mean a brighter future for all.

Develop the hands, heads, and also the hearts of our students

Innovation is happening in public, charter, and private schools alike. Students are no longer asked to develop their heads alone. According to the panelists, education today focuses on leadership and development. Teachers and administrators are asking students to think with their heads and their hearts. Students are asked to understand how their work will impact the world and how it can be applied to make lives better. Volunteer opportunities and the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills with real-world applications are part of the curriculum. The impact is already here. 
Trinity Asing, a student and panelist (only 19 years-old), talked about a high school assignment that resulted in her co-founding Mauka Market, the world’s first regenerative marketplace. At just 19 years old, she articulated clearly that she embraced the opportunity to bring meaning to her school assignment and felt empowered to make a positive change. She graduated from Kamehameha School and is a University of Hawaii student currently. Providing students with the understanding that the future is in their hands and they don’t have to wait for adulthood to take action means that we’re asking students to engage earlier and through this they will bring greater understanding and skills to the workplace later. 

Partnerships are Key

Innovative partnerships are changing the face of education and tomorrow’s workforce. Schools are no longer operating in a vacuum, but are partnering with nonprofit and for-profit organizations alike. How can we develop the minds, hearts, and hands of students and prepare them to succeed? Partnerships are the answer. From rich volunteer opportunities that offer engagement, exposure and connection to community to workforce development that gives students a path forward and an ability to earn in the modern economy. 
Keith Hayashi, Hawaii State Department of Education Superintendent and Carl Hinson of Hawaii Pacific Health explained how a chance meeting seventeen years earlier resulted in the creation of a program that allows students to earn national certifications. These certifications translate into better jobs at graduation and increased earnings for so many households that need the economic boost. Schools are partnering to create innovation centers and students are able to earn stackable credentials that result in economic diversity, entrepreneurship. 

Well-being and Pride are Part of the Recipe

Student’s today are provided greater opportunities to connect with their community and to make positive changes. They have an opportunity to take pride in their work and understand that what they do has meaning. This preparation translates to greater personal and professional well-being on an individual level, but it also bodes well for us as a community. 
Aloha United Way partners with the Department of Education for workplace giving campaigns, but we also connect with students across the island. These are tomorrow’s leaders and they are engaged, innovative, and incredibly determined to create a better future. As we invest in new ways to develop and educate our keiki, it’s obvious that we are changing tomorrow, today. The future is bright indeed.

If you would like to partner with Aloha United Way to develop volunteer and social impact opportunities at your school, please contact Emmaly Calibraro at to discuss development opportunities.