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Hawaiian Trades Academy

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The Hawaiian Trades Academy launched in 2019 to provide workforce development for economically and socially disadvantaged communities. The program goal is to raise the household income of families in Hawaiʻi.


Since its inception in 2019, the Hawaiian Trades Academy has received over $1.3M in grants; delivered 12 academies spanning Kauaʻi, Maui, Molokaʻi, and Oʻahu; and, serviced over 390 students in Carpentry, CDL, Fire, Police, and Solar academies. We are exploring more programs to deliver across the pae ʻāina.

Accelerator classes take place over an 8-14-week span. Participants learn and develop trade skills, gain mentoring, and leave the program with numerous certifications, like CDL licenses, OSHA-10 certification, respiratory and/or First Aid training. All programs include financial empowerment and Hawaiʻi culture education, and job placement assistance.

Am I a good fit?

  • 18 years and older (specific age requirements may apply for certain programs) 

  • Hawaiʻi resident 

  • Interested/passionate in starting a trade career  

  • Looking to learn new skills and change careers 

Fill out the interest form below to receive future announcements and notifications about upcoming programs. 


Fill out the interest form to share more with our Program Managers. We want to work with industry professionals to help build on our pathways that will uplift lāhui and generate economic empowerment in Hawaiʻi households.

Fleet of Trucks

CDL Licensing


Living on an island means many of our goods are shipped or flown in. The trucking industry is vital for moving cargo from Hawaiʻi ports and airports to their final destination. The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Program is designed to provide hands-on training to students interested in driving commercial vehicles and focuses on obtaining a CDL-A license.

Notes about the CDL-A Permit

New federal rules and regulations go into effect February 7, so it’s important to get the permit by February 4, 2022, to be temporarily grandfathered from the changes.

There is free or relatively low cost curriculum to study and help prepare for the permit test on your own. Since the A-permit is a REQUIREMENT for CNHA’s next CDL-License Class, we share these tips on preparing for the permit: 

  1. Study the CDL Manual by purchasing a hard copy or downloading the online version at The hard copy is $8.00 and can be bought at the Commercial Driver Licensing Office at 897 Second Street in Pearl City. Study the manual diligently for the three permit tests: general knowledge, air brakes, and combination. You must pass all three to get the permit.  All three do NOT have to be passed at the same time, but you need to pass general knowledge before being allowed to take air brakes and/or combination.  

  2. Download one of many apps to supplement the material in the Manual.  For your reference some of the apps are entitled “CDL Prep,” “CDL Prep Practice Test 2021,” and “CDL Permit Test 2021.”  Check out this helpful CDL Test Prep mobile app for iPhone and Android.

  3. Watch videos on YouTube.  Some of the videos are entitled “How to Get Your CDL Permit – Pass the First Time – Driving Academy,” “2020 CDL Questions General Knowledge Exam #1,” and “CDL Air Brakes Test Questions and Answers.”  

  4. When ready to take at least one of the three permit tests, go to to schedule a testing day and time.  The costs are $30 permit application fee, $15 general knowledge test fee, and $5 fee each to take the air brake and combination tests.  

  5. Submit to CDL Office a copy of your current medical examiner’s certificate (Form MCSA-5876) completed by a qualified medical examiner on the national registry of certified medical examiners. Information on the medical and physical requirements is available at (see Part 391.41, Physical qualifications for drivers).

  6. Go to page 3 of the Manual for more detailed information on the permit test.


Past Programs – Gallery coming soon.

Oʻahu Classes – Starting in 2022 

CDL-A LICENSE Class – Coming Spring 2022 


This 14-week course consists of two phases: simulator training and truck training. There is no permit training in this course. 


Phase 1: Simulator Training

Instruction starts on a simulator. Students will learn how to operate a truck by sitting in the seat of a TransMaster 3 Screen, Linear Motion Driver Training Simulator. This state-of-the-art machine is self-paced and provides adaptive training, including interactive shifting and backing modules. Students are supervised by a CDL instructor and guided to move at a comfortable pace within a four-week period. Students are expected to commit at least three (3) hours per week for simulator training. Simulator training is generally held Monday-Friday during day hours. 


Phase 2: Road Training

Training occurs in a real truck. Students will have the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a rig and take to the roads with their instructor. All information learned from the permit and skills practiced in the simulator will merge and culminate in this practical setting. This step is critical to a successful performance at the CDL skills test, which participants take during the last two weeks of the class. Students are expected to commit at least four (4) hours per week for truck training. Truck training is generally held Monday-Sunday during day hours. 



  • Must be 21 years of age or older 

  • Must possess a valid driver’s license 

  • Must submit a copy of a valid Hawaiʻi CDL-A permit 

  • Must submit a copy of current medical examiner’s certificate (Form MCSA-5876) completed by a qualified medical examiner on the national registry of certified medical examiners 

  • Must pay for fees associated with the CDL-A skills test appointment and license 


The fee for the course is $250 and does not include industry related fees and expenses.

Note: Space is extremely limited. The CDL-A permit is mandatory for consideration, but does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

Craftsmen (Construction)


The goal of the Craftsmen Program is to help participants earn OSHA-10 and First Aid/CPR/AED certification, which are minimum requirements for entry level Craftsmen positions in the construction union. Participants who walk away with these certifications will gain valuable credentials that can provide opportunities for immediate hire in the union. Students will be taught by industry-certified professionals.

A subsequent component of the program is math test preparation that will help upskill participants in order to move up in position.

Oʻahu Class – Coming in 2022 

Stay tuned for more information on this course. Join our Trades Interest list (see above) to receive upcoming email announcements and to learn more!

Seaside Construction
Carpentry Work



The Carpentry Program gives students hands-on opportunities to learn and hone skills necessary for entry level carpentry positions. The program introduces students to the foundational knowledge needed to prepare for employment in the carpentry trade and further opportunities for a career in the construction industry. Program graduates will receive trade certifications, such as, OSHA-10, Respiratory, or First Aid that add value to a resume. The course is taught by experienced industry professionals.

Past Programs – Gallery of programs held on Maui, Molokaʻi, and Oʻahu coming soon.

Police Class Info

Police Exam Prep


Enrollment is now open for MAUI POLICE EXAM PREP PROGRAM.


Class begins, August 3rd

The Police Program helps students prepare for a career in the Police Department at select counties in the state of Hawaiʻi. Tailored to the specific county, the program aims to help students develop skills and critical thinking needed in law enforcement, and is designed to assist students in successfully navigating the Police Academy examinations through test-taking strategies and mentoring from active and/or retired staff and leaders from the police department.

Police Cars

Maui Classes – Kahului, August 2022


In-person classes in Kahului! Remote/distance learning options available.  The Program will be taught by an industry professional with experience working with Maui Police Department. The course runs approximately 10 weeks long; including orientation, classroom instruction, Financial Empowerment/ Job Readiness, Hawaiian Cultural Enrichment, and Graduation.


18 years and older may apply. Start training now for this amazing career opportunity. Please note that MPD requires all candidates for employment as a Police Officer 1 to be at least 20 years of age.


Training is FREE due to grants from our sponsors. However, a $100 REFUNDABLE PARTICIATION DEPOSIT will be due on the first day of class, then returned to students who successfully complete the program.


Firefighter Exam Prep


The Firefighter Program helps students prepare for a career in the Fire Department at select counties in the state of Hawaiʻi. Tailored to the specific county, the program aims to help students learn about the Fire Department’s application process, develop skills and critical thinking tools to prepare for the written exam and physical agility test, and gain first-hand knowledge and mentoring from active and/or retired staff and leaders from the fire department.

Past Programs – Gallery of programs held on Kauaʻi and Oʻahu coming soon.

Solar Energy


The Solar Program gives students in-class and hands-on learning to gain the skills necessary for entry level solar installation positions. The program introduces students to the foundational knowledge of Photovoltaics needed to prepare for employment in the solar trade and further opportunities for a career in the solar industry. Students will also receive OSHA-10 construction certification. The course is taught by experienced industry professionals.

Solar Panel Installation
Solar Energy

Ella Aki
Program Graduate

“I was let go from my job due to COVID and in the process I was really in a position to pivot in terms of my career trajectory. I was really asking what that was going to look like, how was that going to happen? And when I received this email, I just thought this is it! This class gives me hope for my personal trajectory. It excites me that there are opportunities for our Native Hawaiian and local communities.”


Christian Manzano
Program Graduate

“I learned a lot. I didn’t know nothing going into this solar program, so I was like a fresh book. But now, having learned all these things, I feel pretty confident in working on the roofs installing.”

Working together to serve our community.

As a driver of change and solutions, CNHA knows that the collective impact is greater when communities come together and find ways to complement the work that we do. The Hawaiian Trades Academy appreciates all of its sponsors, partners, and industry professionals who helped support the delivery of our training programs. Mahalo nui loa!


Aloha United Way, City & County of Honolulu, Kamehameha Schools, Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Community Partners

Blue Line Investments, LLC, County of Kauaʻi, Friends of Kauaʻi Fire Department, Kauaʻi Community College Office of Continuing Education and Training, Kauaʻi Police Department, Leigh’s CDL Training LLC, Makaha Cultural Learning Center 

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Meet the Program Manager

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Rona Kekauoha

Rona is the daughter of Arleen “Puanani” (Chong) Lum Lee and the late Bernard “Bernie” Ching.  She grew up in Kaʻimukī and is the second oldest of four daughters.  She is a proud graduate of ʻIolani School and the University of Washington.  Rona has spent most of her adult life working with students in higher education and has a passion for helping Native Hawaiians. 


Having spent over 25 years working with traditional and non-traditional college students, Rona knows first-hand that pursuing a post-baccalaureate degree is not for everyone and is excited to be a Program Manager for CNHA’s Trades Academy programs on Oʻahu.


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