I’ll be in Lexington, Ky. tomorrow for the for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Workforce Summit presented by the Kentucky Career Center. This will mark the third consecutive year that I have attended the two-day event. Workforce is a major talking point across the country as companies are juggling the demands to fill jobs now and the jobs in years to come as a record number of people retire.
While all of that is true, Kentucky has many programs available to assist employers with workforce challenges. Scratch that, I’m not a fan of the word challenge. Let’s use opportunity from here on out.
We are fortunate to have one of the best, if not the best, workforce agencies working in 23 of our 54 counties in the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, inc. (EKCEP). Jeff Whitehead, the executive director of EKCEP, has launched several innovative workforce programs to bring new opportunities to the region. Perhaps the most notable is the Teleworks USA program. EKCEP’s team recruited some of the country’s largest remote-work employers and provided wraparound services such as digital literacy, customer service, and tech support training to provide remote-work companies a higher quality applicant and eventual employee. You couple this training with the Appalachia Kentucky work ethic, and that is a recipe for success. Actually more than 2,600 recipes (hires) to date.
But Jeff will be addressing another opportunity his agency is leading. the Strategic Initiative for Transformational Employment (SITE). Jeff will present this topic on Thursday afternoon.
From the Workforce Summit Agenda:
In partnership with the Kentucky Opioid response Effort (KORE) and the Office for Drug Control Policy (ODCP), the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program has established the Strategic Initiative for Transformational Employment (SITE). A Job Entry and Retention Support Specialist (JERSS) is placed at each comprehensive Kentucky Career Centers (KCC) to support individuals in recovery seeking (re)employment and job training, educate and train employers, and help in the development of Employer Resource Networks (ERNs). The ERNs in development will be comprised of employers that support the implementation of recovery-friendly policies for hiring and retaining employees recovering from opioid use disorder, and include offering the support of a success coach within the workplace. This program has 18 full-time employees, including 12 Job Entry and Retention Support Specialists, 5 Success Coaches, and 1 Program Manager.
Addiction Recovery Care Chief of Staff Matt Brown will share the story of his company’s Crisis to Career approach on Wednesday.
From the Workforce Summit Agenda:
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Study on Benefit and Costs of Substance Use Treatment (August 2016) showed a $5.28 return on investment for every dollar that was put into job training programs for those with substance use disorder (SUD). Based on this study, Addiction Recovery Care integrated vocational training into its holistic treatment model, “Crisis to Career” — which is now being reviewed for the U.S Health and Human Services Department’s Building Evidence for Employment Strategies study. In his session, the presenter will show how introducing vocational training into SUD treatment doubled treatment motivation, increased success rates, and is leading those with SUD to long-term sobriety. Graduates of these vocational training programs are now giving back and helping others with SUD to recover, as well. Vocational training has shown itself to be a vital piece of the recovery ecosystem that is beginning to thrive in Kentucky.
Crisis to Career is not just a motto at Addiction Recovery Care (ARC), it is a way of life. Half of the organization’s 600 employees are in recovery and nearly half of those in recovery are former ARC clients. ARC is doing this through programs like the Peer Support Specialist Academy, a partnership between ARC, EKCEP, SOAR, and Sullivan University. They are also doing it through Second Chance Auto, a full-service automobile service and body shop in Louisa, Ky.
Recovery is the real deal, and I’ll be glad to watch Matt share this story among workforce leaders across the state.
I’ll end with this. It is my favorite quote, and I wish I could say it is mine.
“Eastern Kentucky is not a problem to be solved. We are a solution to be discovered.”
That is from Jeff Whitehead.
May we all search for solutions and opportunities.