Contact: Peter Boylan (Inouye): 202-224-6629
Jesse Broder Van Dyke (Akaka) 202-224-6361

June 3, 2011

WASHINGTON_The University of Hawaii will receive $4,300,000 to continue a 14-year old program that provides job training and educational opportunities to more than 800 residents each year who live in underserved, rural communities on Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, and Molokai, Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Senator Daniel K. Akaka announced today.

The funding announcement underscores the need for workforce expansion and job training as the U.S. Department of Labor announced today that the national unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent in May and that job creation has fallen to its lowest point in eight months.

The $4.3 million was appropriated through an earmark requested by Senator Inouye in the FY2010 federal budget and released to the University of Hawaii by the U.S. Department of Labor following a recent procurement action.

The University of Hawaii-Maui College oversees the program, which offers training in a variety of disciplines including healthcare, culinary arts, food service, veterinary technicians, automotive repair and others.

“We have been fortunate that Hawaii’s unemployment rate (5.6% through April) is well below the national average but we must continue to target the segments of our population that were hit hardest by the global recession.  Many of our residents who reside in rural communities do not have access or are unable to enroll in our education system or seek out vocational training.  We must provide these residents with the skills and training needed to enter the workforce so they can succeed and provide for their families,” said Senator Inouye.

“Employee training and education play a critical role in getting Americans back to work,” said Senator Akaka.  “For those in Hawaii’s rural neighbor island communities, accessing educational resources can sometimes be difficult.  This funding will help these motivated workers develop the skills necessary to find a new job or start a new career.”

The project has been an ongoing effort funded by the federal government since 1997 when Senator Inouye and Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska initiated a program for rural workforce development in Hawaii and Alaska.

In 1997 the Labor Health and Human Services committee recognized that limited access to job training and educational resources in rural areas contributes to high rates of poverty, unemployment, school dropouts, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and mental illness, according to Senate Report 104-368.

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