Mayor looks to slash hiring time in half as city grapples with thousands of vacancies

A look at the city’s job listings shows just over 60 openings, but the actual figure is 3,000 vacancies.
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 5:08 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 4, 2022 at 7:23 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi has directed city leaders to slash what he calls a “staggering” amount of time it takes to hire people at the city.

He’s also budgeting millions of dollars to hire more workers.

A look at the city’s job listings shows just over 60 openings, but Blangiardi said there are actually 3,000 vacancies.

He added it takes an average six months to hire someone at the city.

It’s a problem that’s been years in the making, but he calls it “unacceptable.”

“It was staggering. It really was,” he told Hawaii News Now.

The red tape has hindered recruiting, now worse by the labor shortage. So the city is working with the Bloomberg-Harvard Cities Initiative to diagnose the problem and try to cut through layers of hiring bureaucracy.

“It just was a labyrinth. It was just way, way too complicated,” said Blangiardi.

Nola Miyasaki, director of Department of Human Resources, said a priority is to streamline the application.

“When you apply to the city, we want that application process to be a little more friendlier and simpler than it has been in the past,” Miyasaki said.

The departments with the biggest vacancies are Parks and Recreation, Environmental Services, Facility Maintenance, Board of Water Supply and Honolulu Police Department.

Blangiardi has directed city leaders to cut the six-month average hiring time down to three months ― and they’ve got three months to do it.

“I’ve said this openly to our cabinet, their leadership gets compromised when you don’t have enough manpower to get the job done,” he said.

The city has budgeted roughly $59 million to hire more people.

Blangiardi hopes to hire 1,000 people in the next two years, but says it’ll take much longer to reach 2,000.

Meanwhile, the mayor also hinted for the first time publicly that he’s interested in a second term.

“I don’t think we could get it done in the next 2 1/2 years I’ll tell you now,” said Blangiardi.

“It’s hard to do this job in four years so I’m looking beyond that to be very candid with you,” he added.

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