LIHU’E – During the fall semester, approximately 200 Kaua’i public high school students participated in a program to learn and develop the skills needed to become leaders in the tourism industry.
The Certificate of Service Excellence program was hosted by the non-profit ClimbHI in partnership with the Hawai’i Department of Education (DOE) and Technical Education (CTE) Hospitality Pathway.
The program funded student access to enrollment in the Hotel Administration School of Cornell School of Hotel Administration online training courses and provided additional training on the integration of the aloha spirit in more lasting hospitality. This is the first year that the program has been sponsored for Kaua’i students.
“We learned about the sustainability of Hawai’i and Kaua’i and how we could make a difference to integrate tourists and make our island better,” said Kailen Salud, senior at Kaua’i High School.
Koloa Landing and Hawai’i Lodging and Tourism Association were the primary sponsors of the Kaua’i students. The free program was also available to students from other islands.
Koloa Landing Sales and Marketing Director Stacy Manzo sees program support as a way to invest in the community and its future workforce.
“We have a vested interest in the community growth of our young people to hopefully enter the hospitality business,” said Manzo.
There is enormous value in investing in young people, she continued.
“They bring a lot of creativity, think outside the box, bring new eyes and ideas, especially with the way we communicate on social media and marketing,” said Manzo. “Young people tend to see advertising and (public relations) in a different light. “
Fifty-six students from Kaua’i High School completed the program. Vocational and Technical Education teacher Crystal Ozaki estimates that around 13 of these students are currently working in the hospitality industry, and the skills they have learned through the program will help those who wish to pursue other fields.
“It teaches you a lot (like) how to deal with people and how other businesses should operate,” said student Ethan Hoff. “It’s not just the hotel companies, but it also gives a lot of interesting information for other areas. “
Hoff’s classmate Salud currently works for a furniture moving company and credits the ClimbHi program to help him improve his communication skills.
The program was popular with students, according to Ozaki. She hopes ClimbHi and local businesses will continue to support the program next year in addition to the January offer which is already planned.
“It’s a great program. And I feel like the kids really enjoyed it and got something out of it, ”Ozaki said. “I really believe this is a valuable element that has been added to my program.”
Hoff plans to go to college to study business administration in California and sees hospitality as a career path that will see him return to the island.
“I see all the prices for land and housing. It’s a little scary because it just keeps on increasing, ”Hoff said. “I hope by the time I return it won’t be unaffordable for most of us who want to come back and live here in the future.”
Ozaki hopes this program will give his students many opportunities in the future.
“The more they learn, the more skills they gain, which helps them stay in Hawai’i,” Ozaki said.