How WVPB Is Fighting Opioid Addiction and Preparing Tomorrow's Workers

Jan 11, 2018

Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice enter the House chamber for State of the State 2018
Credit Perry Bennett / Legislative Photography

Gov. Justice’s second State of the State made full use of several props, two whiteboards and his entire girls’ basketball team.

Justice also laid out what he thought was really important in his speech. Here are two themes I heard: finally turning the corner on the opioid epidemic, and helping young people find technical and vocational careers.

  • We must turn the corner on the opioid epidemic: “The first thing we got to do is just this. We have to stop this terrible drug epidemic. We have to. If we don't, it will cannibalize us.”
  • Young people need to know there are great jobs that require specialized training, not a four-year bachelors’ degree: “If you're a student that wants to go into the trades…other kids may look down on you a little bit. It's not fair. It's not right. Some way we have got to let those kids know that we got to have them.”

Here at WVPB, we've been talking about how we can educate West Virginians around these two issues: workforce development and fighting opioid addiction.

The good news is, we’ve recently received a major grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for workforce development, called “American Graduate.” We’ll be working with partners to develop videos to educate young people, their parents, and educators about great careers that don’t require a four-year degree – and how to prepare for them.

And on the opioid epidemic, we’re working with experts to determine how we can help. What messages can WVPB create to educate the public and decrease the number of people dying from overdoses? Other states have turned the corner on this epidemic – WVPB wants to make 2018 the year West Virginia starts to improve.

If you have ideas for how we can prepare young people for careers, and how we can begin to win the fight against opioid addiction, let me know! I’m at