Maui News

Free college courses in Hawaiʻi to learn skills in healthcare, technology, trades

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Employed Hawai‘i residents now are eligible to apply for free short-term training leading to industry credentials in healthcare, technology and the skilled trades through the federally funded Hana Career Pathways program.

The University of Hawai‘i Community Colleges’ program previously had been serving only unemployed and underemployed residents.

  • An Arborist Certification Preparation course now is available as part of the Hana Career Pathways program. Photo courtesy: Will Loomis
  • Free Certified Nurse Aide training is available for eligible Hawaiʻi residents. Photo Courtesy: UH
  • Free IT and technology short-term training is available through the Hana Career Pathways program run by the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges. Photo Courtesy: UH

The Hana Career Pathways program connects students with work-based learning opportunities such as paid internships and guaranteed interviews with local employers. It also prepares students to apply for registered apprenticeships and related degree programs.

The US Department of Education is funding more than $2 million in tuition for the program this year. Eligible applicants receive tuition assistance for courses and other training costs such as books and industry certification exam fees. The program is free for most eligible participants, since many of the trainings provide a 100% tuition subsidy to cover all costs. Wrap-around services also are offered to students including college and career advising, referrals to community partners with supportive services, and other financial assistance.


All training is designed to help participants find living wage career pathways. New training opportunities are updated quarterly. UH Maui College is a participant. Here are the current available courses throughout the state:

  • Healthcare: Certified Nurse Aide, Patient Care Services and Pharmacy Technician. 
  • Technology: Security+, Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Foundation and AWS Solutions Architect. They prepare students for industry certifications, including free industry exam vouchers. 
  • Skilled trades: Carpenter Pre-Apprenticeship, Maintenance Electrician and a new Arborist Certification Prep. 

Learn more and apply online for current trainings. Contact [email protected] for more information.

“The Hana Career Pathways grant has now expanded our eligibility criteria to include incumbent workers in need of upskilling,” said Program Manager Nicolette van der Lee. “Expanding the eligibility criteria enables us to provide training to more Hawai‘i residents and support the project objectives to increase the number of  participants in in-demand college and career pathways.” 


With some of the highest unemployment rates during the pandemic and the high cost of living, the project sought to support the state’s recovery from the negative workforce impacts of COVID-19.

The program reimagines workforce preparation through the Hawaiian concept of hana. Hana translates as “work”, and has significance in Hawaiian culture as the act of breathing and unleashing grace to improve the world through one’s work.

Financial support for the Hana Career Pathways was provided by the US Department of Education federal grant #V425G200038, Reimagining Workforce Preparation: Hana Career Pathways, in the amount of $13.3 million for Oct. 1, 2020 through Sept. 29, 2023.


Grants from the Ascendium Education Group, Hawaiʻi Community Foundation and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation support the UH Community Colleges’ coordination with industry partners in targeted sectors identified as recession-resilient in Hawaiʻi’s Talent Roadmap to Recovery, issued by the Hawaiʻi Executive Collaborative.


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