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March 8, 2022

Attentive Counselor Talks With Patient

JPMorgan Chase has awarded the San Diego Workforce Partnership with a $400,000 grant to pilot programs that provide underrepresented and low-income workers with support in launching meaningful careers in the healthcare industry. The first program launching, Substance Use Disorder Counselor Training, collaborates with employers, trainers and education providers to prepare participants with skills to enter the behavioral health industry. “Counselors trained to deliver the care and treatment individuals struggling with substance use need is vital to our County’s new harm reduction strategies,” said Nathan Fletcher, Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “This program will build a sustainable pipeline of counselors and give us the capacity to help more San Diegans fight substance use disorders and get on the road to recovery. I appreciate the San Diego Workforce Partnership for collaborating with us to expand our behavioral health workforce and build a better way to deliver mental health and substance use disorder treatment services.” Participants will be provided with free tuition for an online training program, as well as registration and certification fees with an approved credentialing body. The Workforce Partnership will assist participants with career navigation to help them gain meaningful, full-time employment while completing their education requirement. The program aims to serve underrepresented San Diegans, including Black, Indigenous and people of color.

The healthcare industry is one of San Diego’s largest and fastest-growing industries. According to a report released by the Workforce Partnership, San Diego’s healthcare industry employs 186,000 workers in San Diego County, which is 5% of the population and 13% of overall employment. Given the high number and quality of jobs, the healthcare sector is a priority sector for the Workforce Partnership. Our goal is to help San Diegans build careers in healthcare, with a special focus on workers who face discrimination in the labor market, such as women, people of color, and English-language learners. “The pandemic forced many families to make difficult decisions over their well-being and job security,” said Sarah Bowles, vice president and program officer, global philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase. “This disruption negatively impacted the economic growth for many communities across San Diego. We want all of San Diego to experience its leading growth industries like the healthcare sector. That’s why it’s important for us to invest in initiatives that help underserved communities find stable jobs and careers in San Diego’s present and future. JPMorgan Chase is excited to partner with the San Diego Workforce Partnership so that we can help build a more equitable economy.” The Workforce Partnership’s Substance Use Disorder Counselor training program breaks down the barriers that prevent underserved, low-income community members from accessing healthcare and behavioral health careers and increases equal access to economic opportunities for all San Diego communities. 

In the five years from 2016 to 2021, while the overall labor force in San Diego County shrank by 2%, the number of substance use, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors increased by 28%. We expect even more growth to come based on the ongoing opioid crisis, a shift from criminalization to treatment for drug use and changes to healthcare reimbursement policies and funding priorities at the federal, state and local level.

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