Hawaii became a remote work point last year, attracting digital professionals from the American continent who want to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic surrounded by surf and sand.
Now, the state is launching a pilot program designed to help unemployed local residents, especially those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, to take advantage of the remote work trend as well.
Remote Ready Hawaii will train unemployed residents to become remote business development representatives or remote customer service professionals. It will also provide participants with a paid remote internship and assistance with job placement at the end of the training.
To qualify for the program, residents must be able to dedicate 20 hours a week to a paid internship, submit a written application and do a video interview. Participants will be chosen based on their registration, alignment with the program’s objectives, technical preparation and commitment to the requirements of the initiative.
American Job Centers will begin to notify eligible residents of the program beginning February 16.
Remote Ready Hawaii is a collaborative effort by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, the Labor Force Development Council and the state county labor force development councils. The initiative is driven by Instant Team, a remote workforce space start-up that strives to improve the career prospects of Hawaii’s unemployed workers.
In a statement, DBEDT director Mike McCartney said the pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of remote work arrangements around the world and the initiative will help ensure that “Hawaii workers can compete globally on our home island”.
Improving the employment prospects and wages of local workers is critical to Hawaii’s economic future. For years, a significant portion of the state’s population has been sidelined for lack of job prospects and low wages. Meanwhile, the island’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, leaving thousands of people without work.
State officials believe remote work could alleviate some of these problems, diversifying the economy and giving local workers the flexibility to stay on the islands.
“Remote work for local residents is an important way to keep families together here in Hawaii and prevent the export of our talent,” said Leslie Wilkins, head of the Hawaii State Workforce Development Council.
Remote workers from outside the state can also play an important role in Hawaii’s economic recovery, spending their income on local businesses, increasing tax revenue and investing in their neighborhoods.
To that end, a group of business leaders based in Hawaii recently launched Movers and Shakas, a program that attracts remote workers to the islands with free airfare and encourages them to learn about local cultures and contribute to the community.
The first wave of the program received 50,000 registrations for just 50 vacancies. However, there are plans underway for a second cohort in the near future.