Big Island hopes to
lure back workers
HILO » Many former Hawaii residents now living on the mainland will be in Hilo this week for the Merrie Monarch Festival and county officials want to encourage them to move back to the Big Island to work for the county.
Hawaii County has increased its radio ads in hopes of recruiting former residents to fill a growing list of vacant county jobs, said Gabriella Cabanas, personnel program specialist for the county's Civil Service Department.
Targeting participants and fans of the annual festival -- known primarily for its hula competition -- is just one strategy the county is using to fill jobs on an island that until recently had a high unemployment rate, Cabanas said.
She hopes to start offering seminars around the island to encourage residents to apply for the various jobs. She and department representatives would offer tips for passing the Civil Service test.
The county needs lifeguards, swimming instructors, a pool custodian, a coconut tree trimmer, and police dispatchers. Cabanas encourages high school seniors to apply for those jobs immediately.
"Whether they're graduating in May, June or December, they should be doing it right now," she said.
The county has an even more critical need to fill 70 vacant police positions. Fifteen recruits are currently in training, but even after their probation period, the Police Department still will have 55 vacancies.
Both the Civil Service Department and the Police Department are scrambling to attract applicants. Because of staff shortages, response times by police might not be very quick, Cabanas said.
Deputy Chief Harry Kubojiri said the department's problem-solving committee is considering contracting with a service that can provide names of Hawaii residents who went to school on the mainland and either dropped out or were unable to find work after graduation, and want to return to the islands.