Maui Business

Employers Suggest Hawai‘i Students Ill-Prepared for Careers

November 9, 2012, 8:45 AM HST
* Updated November 9, 9:25 AM
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University of Hawaii Maui College campus. Courtesy of UHMC.

By Sonia Isotov

The 2012 Hawai‘i Career Ready Study, prepared by Storyline Consulting and just released by Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education, cites the importance of rigorous preparation in school so entry-level employees are “career ready.”

Over 120 Hawai‘i employers hiring in today’s economy participated in the updated study through interviews and a survey that focused on “living wage” career pathways.

With the convergence of skill requirements needed for entry into college and a living wage career, this study provides updated data and information to support the progress of Hawaii’s overall college- and career-ready efforts.

Major findings include:

  • Work habits and attitudes, also known as “soft skills,” still rise to the top as most important for workplace success and most difficult to develop on the job.
  • Effective communication relies on English Language Arts skills like reading and verbal competencies and are critical to employee success.
  • Math skills are less frequently required, but basic mathematics is essential and an important building block for employee skills in using technology, thinking logically, and communicating quantitative ideas.

According to a recent report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Hawai‘i ranks 10th in the nation in the percentage of jobs that will require a post-secondary degree by the year 2018.


As a result, one priority of Hawai’i’s career-ready efforts is to encourage students to enroll in and complete post-secondary education, including two-year degrees, technical education, and certificate programs.

As some students will choose to go directly into the workforce, another priority for Hawaii’s education and labor leaders is to join together to best support and prepare these career-pathway students.

St. Anthony students, courtesy photo.

The Career Ready Study illustrates how the Hawai‘i State Department of Education’s (HIDOE) new K-12 Common Core State Standards align with Hawai‘i employers’ expectations for high quality employees.


The study also maps the HIDOE’s “General Learner Outcomes” goals to specific habits, attitudes and skills sought after by employers. Lastly, the report updates qualitative and quantitative information about employer needs in today’s more constricted economy.

Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education, a state-wide partnership led by the Executive Office of Early Learning, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education and the University of Hawai‘i System are the organizations  aiming to strengthen the education pipeline from early childhood through higher education so that all students achieve college and career success.

Hawai‘i P-20’s partners share a sense of urgency about the need to improve Hawaii’s educational outcomes in an increasingly global economy, and have established a goal of 55% of Hawaii’s working age adults having 2- or 4-year college degree by 2025.

For more information, and the read the executive summary and complete report, go to

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