Responding to the surge in unemployment across Hawaii, the state is funneling $10 million in CARES Act funds toward a new program that will match up to 650 displaced workers with temporary jobs, health benefits and career training at emerging local businesses and nonprofits.

Eligible participants who lost their jobs to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as recent high school and college graduates, will gain on-the-job training and mentoring for a period of up to three months at companies in emerging industries, including conservation, renewable energy, agriculture, creative arts, aerospace, entrepreneurship and STEM fields.

Participants will earn an hourly wage of $13 to $15. When the program expires, the hope is that some of the program participants will be offered permanent employment so they can continue to pursue a new career.

The program is made possibly by a partnership between the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism and the nonprofit organizations Kupu and the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii.

There are two tracks: “Kupu Aina Corps” run by Kupu and “Aloha Connects Innovation” run by EDAH.

The initiative aims to diversify and strengthen Hawaii’s economy by building a scalable workforce to support the growth of emerging and resilient non-tourism industries.

New and displaced workers interested in applying, as well as companies interested in hosting participants, can apply for the innovation track at the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaii website and the conservation track through Kupu’s website.

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