Workforce Development

A skilled and competitive workforce is essential for a successful visitor destination.

Workforce Development

Encouraging Hawaii’s high school and college-age students to choose tourism as their career is an important part of HTA’s mission.

Sustaining tourism success depends on the young people of Hawaii helping carry the industry forward and becoming the next generation of leaders. HTA is helping support programs that show Hawaii’s youth they can have a career where their energy, insight, and opinions are needed to help move the state forward.

HTA supports the L.E.I. (Leadership, Exploration, Inspiration) Program on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the island of Hawaii, which brings 1,000 teens from throughout the state in direct contact with hotels, businesses, and tourism industry leaders. In the program, the future engages the present.

HTA also offers support with certification and training programs to help elevate the current industry workforce development through the University of Hawaii’s community college system.

Providing a Pathway for Hawaii’s Youth

The HTA has partnered with the Department of Education’s (DOE) Career & Technical Education (CTE) program to support career pathways.  Launched in 2020, HTA is supporting training of teachers in hospitality service training, and providing high school students with Service Excellence Certificate of Achievement certificates.  The curriculum was exclusively developed in partnership with ClimbHI and the School of Hotel Administration at the Cornell SJ Johnson College of Business, one of the leading hospitality administration programs in the world, for the DOE’s CTE program.

The HTA has also partnered with ClimbHI, a local non-profit organization to inspire Hawaii’s youth to pursue careers in the Hawaii visitor industry through the LEI (Lead, Expose, Inspire) Program. LEI is an annual statewide event held every April comprising of inspiration and leadership through guest speakers and Hawaiian culture and hospitality training, site visits to a lodging property for an overview of the lodging sector including a dining etiquette piece for lunch, and an afternoon career fair to expose students to the variety of career options and opportunities in the visitor industry. LEI 2021 will be done virtually with the same objective of inspiring Hawaii’s youth to have seek a career in Hawaii’s visitor industry.

HTA is also supporting ClimbHI’s Bridge, which is an online portal to connect businesses and educators with opportunities ranging from guest speaking/guest teaching, mentorships/advisory boards, job shadowing/teacher externships, project-based learning, career fair participation, site visits, and more. For more information, visit:

Hawaii Tourism Hooilina Scholarships

Hawaii Tourism Hooilina Scholarships are awarded to college-bound public Hawaii high school seniors based on demonstrated academic achievement, leadership skills and an expressed interest in pursuing a hospitality, tourism or culinary education and career; or community college students who are Hawaii residents, graduated from a Hawaii public high school, completed their associates degree in hospitality, tourism, or culinary, and are transferring into the junior academic school year.  The purpose of this scholarship is to support kids raised in Hawaii to have an executive management level career in our visitor industry.

In Spring 2020, eight Hawaii public high school seniors who selected to major in the tourism/hospitality/culinary field were awarded four-year full-tuition scholarships to the University of Hawaii at Manoas School of Travel Industry Management at Shidler College of Business. Two Hawaii public high school seniors were awarded four-year full-tuition scholarships to the University of Hawaii West Oahu’s Business Administration Division.  One community college student was selected to receive a two-year scholarship to the University of Hawaii – West Oahu’s Business Administration Division.

Providing Training Opportunities for Hawaii’s Workforce

To address industry’s changing needs in workforce training, the HTA has also worked with educational institutions to make training available for the current workforce to help enhance service skills and quality.  HTA has partnered with University of Hawaii’s Kapiolani Community College, Maui College, Kauai Community College, and Hawaii Community College to reinforce customer service industry standards and expectations.  The community colleges offer trainings to obtain a certificate of professional development in customer service in Hawaii in addition to a certification for Hawaii’s professional tour guides.  For more information on the program visit here.

HTA sponsored the Campaign for a Safer Community, an initiative to combat sex trafficking in partnership with Hoola Na Pua, a Hawaii nonprofit working against sex trafficking.  The group says sex traffickers often take advantage of the privacy and anonymity accessible through the hospitality industry. Four symposiums were held across the state in November 2019.  The half-day symposiums were aimed at empowering Hawaii’s visitor industry management, but everyone who wants to take a stand against trafficking was welcome to attend.  A little over 300 from the visitor industry and community attended.  If you are interested in training your organization on this issue, please contact Hoola Na Pua.

The HTA provides support to the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA) to bridge the gap between the Hawaiian community and the visitor industry. NaHHA offers cultural training and consultation to individuals and organizations to learn and incorporate Hawaiian culture, values, and traditions.  Click here for more information.


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