Wayne Langerholc

Wayne Langerholc

A Richland Township lawmaker is introducing a bill establishing a pilot program to help people recovering from addiction find jobs.

The “Recovery to Work Pilot Program” would pair local workforce development boards across the state with individuals rebuilding their lives, State Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr said.

In doing so, it would help Pennsylvania employers having trouble finding workers for positions they need to fill by supplying them with a pool of people eager for steady work – a milestone that can often be essential to sustaining long-term recovery, he said.

“Meaningful employment ... provides a renewed sense of purpose and helps those in recovery support themselves and their families,” Langerholc said.

If approved, a list of state agencies from both sides of the equation – the departments of Labor and Industry, Drug and Alcohol, Health, Community and Economic Development and Crime and Delinquency would all work together to develop guidelines for the program.

In each community, workforce development boards would then work with the local treatment and recovery community, employers and training providers to find jobs that are available and recovering individuals who’d be suitable for that work.

The Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, Twin Lakes Center, Pa CareerLink, Single County Authority and county officials launched a program called Operation Hope Shot last fall aimed at matching employers hunting for workers with people in recovery looking for work.

Langerholc said he’s talked to employers across the 35th district who’ve lamented about the troubles they’re having filling jobs.

And given the multi-faceted approach needed to combat Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic, a program like the one his bill proposes makes sense statewide, he said.

“There’s a tremendous need for workers right now,” Langerholc said.

And filling those jobs would have a ripple effect across the state, he added.

While Langerholc’s bill would call for a not-yet-specified amount of incentives to businesses and training providers who participate, the fact the program would pull off of the unemployment rolls. They’d start earning pay checks and, in doing so, pay taxes, he said.

Langerholc said he’s adding co-sponsors for his bill, which he said is the first of its kind in either the House or Senate.

He plans to formally introduce the bill in the near future.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.