The pandemic has upended many people’s lives, exacerbating a ongoing public health crisis that existed before the pandemic and continues to impact thousands of Minnesotans. The opioid crisis hasn’t gone away – and now Minnesota has more resources to help those both directly and indirectly affected by opioid addiction.
The U.S Department of Labor awarded the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) a $1,368,421 National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant to help address the state’s opioid crisis. The grant will assist in reintegrating individuals affected by opioid addiction into the workforce, helping them prepare for in-demand careers in health care, social services and other fields.
The economic, health and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened Minnesota’s opioid crisis. High rates of abuse and overdoses have increased chemical dependency treatment service gaps in many communities across the state. These gaps are partially attributable to a shortage of local workers within the chemical dependency field, creating a need to develop a workforce pipeline. To effectively address this aspect of the opioid crisis, DEED is building a collaborative effort to assist people in overcoming addiction and related obstacles, find stability, and successfully re-enter the workforce, potentially in a position to help others overcome addiction.
This grant will provide additional resources to offer eligible individuals one-on-one counseling, interest assessments, job search assistance and training for careers in high-demand occupations through four Workforce Development Area (WDA) partners – Anoka County, Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services, the City of Duluth, and the Southeast Minnesota Workforce Development Board. The WDAs will also be partnering with local health care, housing, higher education organizations to better meet the needs of the participants.
Addiction, homelessness, involvement in the criminal justice system and other workforce-adjacent issues are significant barriers to rejoining the workforce for many people. This grant assists DEED in its efforts to help Minnesotans overcome such barriers and find fulfilling employment to sustain themselves and their families.