Guest post by Massachusetts Workforce Association Associate Director Raija Vaisanen
This year, frontline MassHire Career Center staff received training on addiction recovery and trauma-informed approach to mental health to better understand the barriers that some customers are facing as they look for jobs in a tight labor market.
With low unemployment and a shrinking workforce, those who are still looking for work face some of the greatest challenges to obtaining and keeping a job. Working with these job seekers takes more time and a more sophisticated understanding of what they are going through to connect them with jobs that will support their health and recovery. At the same time, job developers need support in communicating with businesses about these workers’ needs and matching these job seekers with employers who understand and offer a supportive work environment.
Commonwealth Corporation partnered with the MassHire Department of Career Services to coordinate and deliver the training this past spring and fall. The first training, Overview of Addiction, Recovery and Available Resources, was held across the state in five locations. Facilitator Benjamin Cluff, from the state Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Use and Addiction Services (BSAS), offered his expertise on how symptoms and signs of addiction manifest in people and the stages and experience of recovery.
Participants in the training found Cluff’s expertise and the information shared extremely helpful in increasing their understanding of addiction and recovery. Cluff shared resources that are available for those suffering from addiction and for family and those who care for them; these were found to be particularly useful for participants. Most participants stated they would recommend this training to their colleagues. CommCorp is currently working with MassHire and BSAS on a follow-up to this training, focusing on how to apply this information in day-to-day career center work.
The second training, Transforming Services through a Trauma-Informed Approach, was facilitated by the Central MA Recovery Learning Community KIVA Center. This training was also held in five locations across the state. This training introduced the relationship between trauma and mental health struggles. The facilitators explored what a trauma-informed approach is, why it is important, and how it relates to career center staffs’ work with customers who may have mental health struggles.
In many cases, participants found that they were already implementing a trauma-informed approach in their work with job seekers. The training also helped participants consider how the environment in which they meet with job seekers can be made more comfortable for those with histories of trauma. Many participants reported that their level of understanding what trauma is and how it can impact someone’s life increased through this training. Most participants stated that they would recommend this training to their colleagues, as well.
CommCorp is currently working with MassHire on additional training for career center staff in 2020. As associate director of the Massachusetts Workforce Association (MWA), I see how fruitful this partnership is for the state’s workforce system and MWA looks forward to partnering with CommCorp and MassHire to make sure timely and in-depth training such as this continues for our members.