The first cohort of 50 remote workers chosen for Movers and Shakas, a program designed to attract remote workers to Hawaii, have begun to arrive. They range in age from 24 to over 60-years old, and work in a variety of industries, from finance and technology to education and energy. The participants were chosen from nearly 90,000 applicants, and have each committed to service projects during their minimum 30-day stay in the state.
“We’re hoping to bring back returning kama’aina. We want to promote brain gain in the tech and innovation sectors, and increase access to those remote, geography independent, high-paying jobs,” said Movers and Shakas executive director Nicole Lim this morning on Spotlight Hawaii.
Former Hawaii residents make up 65% of the group and 75% have family in the state. All participants have full-time jobs, and so will not be displacing any local jobs. Some will stay with family, and the program has also partnered with local hotels to provide discounted rates for program participants for extended stays. Movers and Shakas matches participants with local non-profit organizations, where workers will volunteer in their free time. The cohort will also have opportunities to learn about Hawaii’s history and culture.
“People want to come to Hawaii to engage in the local community, and to contribute, and to have a more authentic experience, rather than just sit on the beach,” Lim explained. “We wanted to find people who were excited to share their experience and skill sets to contribute to the local community, and volunteer with local non-profits and start-ups.”
Na’alehu Anthony, who serves on the Movers and Shakas advisory board, said that they have been pleased with the quality of applicants. The organization hopes to learn from the experiences of this first group, as they start to plan for the next cohort sometime this summer.
“Economic reopening may be slow…we need to come up with other ways at which we can not only fill out economy, but also make sure that we have the right mix of folks here in Hawaii to solve for some of the unique problems that persist here versus other places in the world,” Anthony said.
Spotlight Hawaii, which shines a light on issues affecting Hawaii, airs live 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Join Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies this month for a conversation with guests. Click here to watch previous conversations and to view the rest of this month’s schedule.