Hawaiian Trades Academy

Building pathways that will uplift lāhui and generate economic empowerment in Hawai‘i households.

About Hawaiian Trades Academy

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.

Free Workforce Training Classes for Maui Residents

CNHAʻs Hawaiian Trades Academy is offering free workforce training classes to Maui residents interested in clean-up and rebuild-related jobs. Check out below for our active programs and application link to apply.

We continually seek community feedback to stay informed of immediate workforce needs / interest, which helps us plan for more or new programs. Fill out the Interest Form below to let us know what program(s) you are interested in.

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.

If you are interested in attending a O‘ahu CDL-A permit prep class and/or the Oahu CDL-A training cohort 7, please submit an application here.

If you are interested in attending a Maui CDL-A training class, please fill out our Maui Workforce Development application and select CDL-A as an interest.

Please note that applying does not guarantee enrollment. If you need an update on a submitted application, please reference your APPLICATION SUBMISSION NUMBER to expedite your request.

Questions? Please contact us at (808)596-8155 or trades@hawaiiancouncil.org 

Hawaiian Trades Academy Oahu Solar Program Graduation

Interested In Being an Instructor/Collaborator?

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 Hawai‘i households.

CDL Licensing

Maui & O‘ahu

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. 

CDL Fleet of Trucks

About the Program

The CDL program consists of seven phases:

Phase 1: Orientation

Course expectations, format and schedule are discussed while also providing space to meet fellow classmates, CDL instructors, and HTA staff.

Phase 2: Hawaiian cultural enrichment

Participants gain cultural perspective and knowledge taught by CNHA’s cultural ambassador. 

Phase 3: Theory training

CNHA’s CDL program utilizes the J.J. Keller book “Entry-Level Driver Training Obtaining a CDL.”  Participants receive accurate, up-to-date training that helps student drivers to be knowledgeable, skilled, professional and safe. Students are to study the assigned chapters on their own and take the exams online no later than the due date.  Exam scores are sent to the federal government for review and recording and clearance is shared with the respective local County CDL Office.

Phase 4: Simulator training

Students learn how to operate a truck by sitting in the seat of a 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 designated time period. Students are expected to commit at least three (3) hours per week for simulator training. 

Phase 5: 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.

Phase 6: Financial empowerment and Job readiness

One of the goals of the CDL Program is to provide job opportunities that will result in increased income. We want to empower enrollees with financial education and knowledge, so there is an awareness of what options are available with that increased wage. We also want students to be job ready by offering assistance in creating/updating a resume and sharing basic techniques to help prepare for an interview.

Phase 7: Graduation

At the end of the program we take time to honor the hard work and accomplishments of all graduates.


  • Must be 21 years of age or older (industry standard)
  • 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.

Notes about the CDL-A Permit

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 CDL Program, 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 https://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/files/2020/01/Final-Proof-CDL-Alternate-Margin.pdf. 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 2022,” and “CDL Permit Test 2022.”  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. Scheduling a testing day and time.
    • Oʻahu: go to alohaq.net to schedule.  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 https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations (see Part 391.41, Physical qualifications for drivers).
  6. Go to page 3 of the Manual for more detailed information on the permit test

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

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

HTA Seaside Construction
HTA 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 Exam Prep

Kaua‘i, Maui, O‘ahu

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.

HTA Police Exam Prep
Maui Classes

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.

HTA Firefighter Exam Prep

Firefighter Exam prep

Kaua‘i, Oʻahu

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 Kaua‘i 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.
HTA Solar-Panel-Installation


Ella Aki - Hawaiian Trades Academy

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 - Hawaiian Trades Academy

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.

AAs 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

Aloha United Way Logo
City and County of Honolulu Logo
Kamehameha Schools
Alaka‘ina Foundation
Office of Hawaiian Affairs

What We Do

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Community Programs

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