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What is Workforce Development?

Workforce development encompasses strategies to recruit, train, develop and retain staff. In addition, it recognizes systems, structures, and policies at the federal, state and local levels which directly impact the effectiveness of the addictions treatment workforce.2

This complex approach is applied to provide a sufficient number of skilled workers which ensures a sound infrastructure to support these efforts in an ever changing world.3  These and other factors contribute to workforce sustainability and ultimately, affect the quality of patient care.

The Addictions Treatment Workforce

The addictions treatment workforce is made up of professionals who provide addictions treatment and recovery support services including addictions counselors, physicians, psychologists, nurses, outreach and intake workers, case managers, social workers, marriage and family therapists, recovery support workers and clergy.4 The average counselor is a 45 year-old white female, seeing 29 clients in a 50-hour workweek.5 

Typically, those who are new to the addictions treatment field are typically not new to the job market, with an average of 17 years of experience. Treatment staff have degrees in a variety of fields, with very few having specific academic courses or degrees in substance abuse treatment.6  In addition, most are entering the field for personal reasons rather than structural or organizational factors. They have a deep desire to help others, are seeking challenging work and often have friends or family with addiction problems.7







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