MADISON – As part of efforts to help Wisconsin employers connect with underutilized talent pools, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has expanded resources for employers to help employees working to overcome substance use disorder and attain job stability and security.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on Wisconsin citizens, especially those with substance use disorder. Through DWD resources, Wisconsin employers can learn about a variety of topics, including:

  • Labor market impacts of the opioid epidemic in Wisconsin;
  • The cost of substance use in the workplace; and
  • Policies and program guidance to support individuals in recovery in the workplace.

DWD will continue to add resources and guidance to this page for employers and job seekers affected by substance use disorder with the goal of removing recovery as a barrier to employment.

“As evidenced by research done by the National Safety Council and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, work is one of the best predictors of positive outcomes for individuals with substance use disorders,” said DWD Division of Employment and Training Administrator Michele Carter. “DWD is excited to provide support and resources to employers who strive to create and provide a recovery ready workplace.”

Notably, DWD is the proud recipient of the federal Support to Communities grant, which fosters opioid recovery through workforce development. Through this U.S. Department of Labor grant program, DWD was awarded $5 million in September 2020 to provide training, career services, and supportive services to individuals affected by the opioid crisis. This grant program is administered at the local level by five workforce development boards (WDBs) in the following workforce development areas: Fox Valley, North Central, Northwest, West Central, and Southwest.

In the first year of grant administration, the five participating WDBs made great progress connecting with individuals impacted by substance use. A total of 171 individuals were served by the grant program with 86 individuals being placed in job training. Additionally, several WDBs are creating system supports and employer resources to better address recovery as a barrier to employment.

For example, the Southwest Wisconsin WDB developed employer trainings on substance use and how to create recovery-ready workspaces, in addition to providing virtual employer workshops related to substance use. Likewise, the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board performed outreach to more than 900 businesses to promote a Substance Use and the Workplace employer seminar and hosted a podcast on the topic.

DWD is proud to partner and support the work of the five Support to Communities subgrantees and continue to promote the importance of employment and economic mobility on the journey of recovery.

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