a volunteer helps a bird in the Kupu Aina Corps program

Two Innovative Jobs Programs are Helping Relieve Tourism and Other Workers with Paid Training

More than $10 million from the CARES Act is making its way into Hawaii’s job market, thanks to two new programs that will provide businesses with up to 650 workers who have been displaced during the current economic crisis. It’s a wonderful opportunity for Hawaii residents to learn a new trade that has a positive impact on the islands and helps to open up options outside of the tourism industry. The programs, Kupu Aina Corps and Aloha Connects Innovation, will run from early October through mid-December 2020 and offer on-the-job training, a fair wage, and health insurance for full time employees. According to a press release from the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT), ideally, after the on-the-job training, individuals will be hired at the sites they are placed at or within the network of their organization, pursue careers in the emerging, innovation sector, or continue with higher education.

The program will match displaced workers with companies in emerging industries and Aloha+ Challenge sectors such as conservation, renewable energy, agriculture, creative arts, aerospace, entrepreneurship, and STEM fields. The Aloha+ Challenge is a statewide commitment to achieve Hawai‘i’s sustainability goals, and locally driven framework to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The initiative, originally envisioned by Omar Sultan of Sultan Ventures, aims to diversify and strengthen Hawai‘i’s economy by building a scalable workforce to support the growth of emerging and resilient non-tourism industries. The program will create internship opportunities to provide temporary employment required due to economic injury caused by COVID-19 related business closures, while meaningfully diversifying and strengthening Hawai‘i’s economy.

“We are excited to create some options for those who are currently unemployed and want to seek a different career path,” said Kupu Aina Corps CEO John Leong. “These positions will provide on-the-job experience, healthcare, and relevant educational or training opportunities for upward mobility beyond the first phase. The skills learned here will be essential tools for a resilient Hawai‘i.”


-must be able to legally work in the U.S.
-no age limits, but must be 21+ to be a crew leader
-most sites require at least a high school diploma
-the program is ideally suited for those who are recent high school or college graduates, or adults who have had employment affected by COVID-19

Kupu Aina Corps

The Kupu Aina Corps is a new initiative that provides temporary employment for those with an interest in conservation, sustainability, and environmental related work. With a motto to “Make work an adventure,” the Corps helps provide service to conservation and agriculture-based host sites throughout the islands of Hawaii, including local nonprofits, for-profits, and governmental entities that help with various conservation efforts. These partners and agencies offer a variety of exciting positions in fields that include botany, ornithology, marine biology, Hawaiian cultural studies, natural and aquatic resource management, and more.

There are three types of roles that the program is filling: individual placement ($15/hr), where the applicant works directly with an established non-profit and its team; crew member ($15/hr), where the applicant works on a designated team with other members; crew leader ($18/hr), where the applicant leads a team of four to six crew members. There are full-time and part-time positions available, and those who are working full time are eligible to receive health care benefits from Kaiser Permanente. No housing or transportation will be provided. In addition to on-site training and education, there may also be opportunities for Corps members to receive additional training and certifications. For more information, this applicant FAQ is very helpful.

The application process is very simple and straightforward. You’ll need a Google account to apply, and be sure that you have an updated resume (in PDF or Word) and information for two job references (with phone number and email address) ready to go. The applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all positions are filled or until the term of the program ends.

For additional information on Kupu Aina Corps, visit their website or email them at opportunities@kupuhawaii.org.


Aloha Connects Innovation

The Aloha Connects Innovation program is similar to the Kupu Aina Corps program, but with a focus on innovation, rather than conservation. It offers the same opportunities for a fair wage, health care, and on-the-job learning, as well as an easy application process. The emerging industries that this program represents include: Aerospace, Aquaculture, Clean Energy, Creative Industries, Healthcare, Local Food Production and Manufacturing, STEM, and Smart/Sustainable Communities, among others.

For additional information on Aloha Connects Innovation, visit the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii’s website or email info@edahawaii.org.


Featured photo via Kupu Hawaii Facebook


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