Puhi auto repair shop sets example for state

PUHI — The county’s “Kaua‘i Work Wise One-Stop Center” program continues to show its leadership traits when on Monday, another celebration based on its efforts took place in an automotive body shop.

Lesther Calipjo, the owner and general manager of Garden Isle Collision Repair Shop, accepted a certificate from Alfred Valles, the state director of Hawai‘i-Pacific Area, Office of Apprenticeship, United States Department of Labor, celebrating the Puhi shop’s establishment as the first Workforce Integration Apprenticeship sponsor in the state.

Valles said the sponsor certificate presented to Calipjo is signed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and verifies that this program has been approved under the U.S.D.O.L. and the Hawai‘i State Apprenticeship Standards.

“This is a very significant event because this inception of apprenticeship results from the Apprenticeship Integration Training and Employment letter distributed to all state Workforce Investment Boards by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor Emily DeRocco,” Valles said prior to the presentation of the plaque.

Valles said that what gives this program significance is that it was started as a result of the cooperation between the Hawai‘i Department of Labor and Industrial Relation’s “Kaua‘i Work Wise One-Stop Center” and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship.

“The winner in this program is the apprentice,” Valles said, noting that in a recent Guam graduation of an apprenticeship program, 17 of the 23 graduates came from a Workforce program.

Tracy Hirano, the director of Kaua‘i Work Wise One-Stop Center, was not only able to promote standards for this program, but also establish a joint venture between Garden Isle Collision Repair and the Kaua‘i Community College, Valles said.

Attending the ceremony were KCC Chancellor Helen Cox and retired Chancellor Peggy Cha who earlier signed the KCC letter of agreement for the program. Also on hand were several KCC faculty members including Glenn Alquiza of the KCC Automotive Technology program.

Joining them were representatives of the Kaua‘i Community Filipino Council, Mayor Bill “Kaipo” Asing, council members Ron Kouchi and JoAnn Yukimura.

Ernie Pasion was among the KCFC members and beamed with pride as he said Calipjo was his nephew and from the time he arrived here from the Philippines has never been afraid to explore new possibilities and ventures.

“KCC students will participate in KCC’s Collision Repair Shop course and, upon successful completion of that course, gain entry directly into the program as registered apprentices,” Valles said.

He said there are 980 occupations that utilize apprentices and the USDOL is not concentrating on the construction program for these apprenticeship programs, but rather, want the banks and other industries which have not received the help afforded the construction trade.

“Today’s presentation sends an example of the Workforce Integration Apprenticeship program,” Valles said, adding that he is ready and able to do presentations on this program to other businesses who want to explore this concept in greater depth.

Earlier last week, KCC chancellors Cha and Cox were on hand for the dedication of the college’s One Stop Center which was inspired largely by the One-Stop concept of the county’s Work Wise program.

This building, the first of two which will occupy space close to the entrance of the college, is also the first of its type within the University of Hawai‘i system designed to make college more user-friendly to students desiring entry into the college.

“The presentation to Garden Isle Collision Repair enhances the Work Wise one-stop concept,” Valles said. “This is just another way we can take people out of welfare and put them into well-paying jobs.”

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