On Wednesday, April 25th, ClimbHI, a non-profit organization, in partnership with the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), will be launching LEI, a new workforce development project for 300 high school students from economically disadvantaged areas on Oahu.

Khon2Specifically timed near Lei Day, LEI represents an opportunity for Leadership, Exploration and Inspiration from the student’s perspective and from the hospitality industry’s perspective LEI provides an opportunity to Lead, Expose, and Inspire Hawaii’s youth. The day-long program begins at the Hawaii Convention Center at 9:30 a.m.; after a morning of leadership, hospitality, and cultural training, the students separate to visit 10 different participating hotels from 12pm through 3pm; the students return to the Hawaii Convention Center from 3:30pm to 5pm for a career fair showcasing the many different jobs in the hospitality industry, along with relevant college/university programs.

The primary goal of LEI is to bring the hospitality industry together to help inspire students to finish high school and proceed to a post-secondary education or employment by educating them about future career paths, and the process necessary to achieve those goals. “Hawaii’s tourism industry continuously needs qualified workers at all levels, so LEI is integral to the future success of the industry because it shows students, first-hand, that it is the people in the industry that create our destination’s greatest competitive advantage, the Aloha Spirit,” says Julie Morikawa, Founder and CEO of ClimbHI.

“The HTA is committed to educating Hawai’i’s youth and inspiring them to become a part of our largest industry, tourism,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA. “It is important for us to teach the next generation the importance of Hawai’i’s top economic driver and provide them with an opportunity to explore the visitor industry as a viable career option.”

Each group of ten students will be lead by a mentor for the day- a current college/university student on Oahu. “The mentors have an important message to spread to the participants as research states about two-thirds of all Hawaii jobs in 2018 will require post-secondary degrees of which the state is currently at just 30 percent of the population with a 4-year degree or higher,” said Morikawa.
“Beyond exposure to the tourism industry, LEI includes educational pieces on personal finance, job/college application overviews, dining etiquette, Hawaiian culture and protocol, and leadership”, said Morikawa. “And the support for the students does not end after the event is over, LEI provides the students with resources to help them reach their dreams.”
In its inaugural year, LEI is intended to be an annual event that will expand to benefit students and businesses across the state. For more information or to get involved with LEI please contact Julie Morikawa at Julie@climbhi.org.