New Toolkit Educates Vt. Employers About Second-Chance Hiring

The digital resource was released Wednesday to employers

A new toolkit aimed at promoting what’s often known as second-chance hiring was released Wednesday to Vermont employers.

“We know that there’s value in people who have substance use disorders, or who are in recovery,” Christine Johnson of the Chittenden County Opioid Alliance said of the message behind the toolkit.

Johnson gave a presentation involving the toolkit Wednesday at a conference in Burlington organized by the group Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.

Johnson said already, 60% of the estimated 20 million Americans in recovery are in the nation’s workforce full-time.

With Vermont’s low unemployment rate leaving companies often struggling to find employees, they’re increasingly turning to applicants from the recovery community.

Earlier this month, Hunter Stetson said he was grateful the kitchen equipment factory that hired him looked past his prior troubles with alcohol and drugs to see his work ethic and dedication.

“I know that, right now, I’m on the right path, and I’m glad they took a chance on me, for sure,” Stetson said of his new employer, Edlund.

The newly-released toolkit lets employers know about resources available in the community and federally, and answers questions like how work schedules could accommodate someone’s medical needs or counseling.

“In doing so, what we’re trying to also do is address the stigma of substance use disorders and say, ‘These are our family members,’” Johnson told necn. “They are our colleagues, and there are really great things in place that can really help them get to a better place in their recovery—and we know employment is such a key piece of that.”

Julie Phillips said she is in long-term recovery after previously abusing painkillers, and does not think she’d be healthy or happy today without the second chance an employer gave her.

Phillips now works for Working Fields, a staffing agency that links people with substance use disorders to jobs. She said while some companies were once leery of considering applicants in recovery, she’s seen a turnaround she chalks up to greater public understanding of substance use disorders as diseases.

“In Vermont, just two years ago was so different than it is now,” Phillips said. “It’s more accepted, that—hey, this is really truly a problem in our communities that we need to address as a community. And businesses are a big part of that.”

You can access the toolkit for free online from the Chittenden County Opioid Alliance.

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