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Institutions of Hired Learning

Specialized schools offer quick-and-easy solutions for job hunters.

When Heald College students begin classes each term, they know better than to shop for books at the campus bookstore. Instead, they rely on school administrators to fill their assigned lockers with appropriate reading materials. It’s one of many traditions at Heald’s 1,200-student campus, where typical rites of passage (lecture classes conducted in auditoriums, dorm food and Greek life) are not the norm.

Heald is a five-story building on Kapiolani Boulevard. Degrees are earned in about 18 months. And the dress code is non-student-like: men wear collared shirts and slacks, while women don conservative, office attire.

Wednesdays are reserved for nylons and neckties. “We want to put our students in a business frame of mind,” says Lon K. Ibaraki, director of admissions for the college. Ibaraki himself sports a tie almost daily.

Strictly Business: Lon K. Ibaraki encourages Heald College students to dress for success.

Approximately 90 percent of Heald graduates immediately land careers in their respective degrees. While the majority of job recruiters are Hawaii-based, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in past years have offered jobs to Heald alumni. “The company that cleans us out is Intel,” says Stephen Shortt, the school’s director of career services. Intel Corp. offered 40 positions to Heald graduates last February and is scheduled to return to the campus in September.

A Department of Labor study estimates that from 1996 to 2006, the nation’s fastest-growing occupations will be in the computer and medical industries. Computer support specialists and database administrators are estimated to grow 117 percent over the 10-year period, while computer engineers, systems analysts and personal and home-care aides are expected to grow 109, 103 and 85 percent.

The nationwide study reflects statewide trends. At Hawaii Business College, medical office procedures and computer networking classes boast the largest number of students. The three most popular courses at Heald College are medical assisting, computer and electric technology.

To keep pace with the high-tech industry, both colleges have upgraded their computer classes. Heald introduced the Cisco Systems Networking Academy, a six-month program that began in April with 15 students. Hawaii Business College last year became an authorized certification-testing center for Microsoft Office User Specialist. And in June, it began offering Web design and e-business classes. “Our motto is ‘Our graduates get good jobs,’” says Helen Au, vice president for admission and placement.

At the Travel Institute of the Pacific, hands-on training is mandatory if students want to land good jobs. Established in 1974, it is one of the nation’s oldest schools that specialize in travel, food and beverage, hospitality and culinary arts. There are approximately 400 students per academic year, with ages ranging from 18 to 72 years old. At least 20 percent of students already have bachelor’s degrees. “We have people who come in because they’re tired of being retired – they want to be travel agents,” says Frank N. Green, vice president of the travel institute.

The institute’s culinary program is well known and is taught by professionals, including a former pastry chef for Disney World and retired executive chefs from Sheraton and the Halekulani hotels. But unlike travel and hospitality classes that are six weeks long, the culinary program requires 45 weeks and 900 hours of hands-on instruction. “At the institute, we’re short-term and focus strictly on job placement,” Green says. “We’re straight to the point.” That’s a statement shared not only by the institute, but by Heald College and Hawaii Business College administrators, as well. While specialized schools offer the quickest guarantee to job offers, there are drawbacks to not earning a diploma at a four-year college: “They (employees) can only go so far,” Green says. “When you get to the corporate level, they would like to see the university degree for long-term employment.”

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