Excerpted from The Republic article by Julie McClure
One of the first hurdles a job applicant faces is a pre-employment drug test, a step that’s tripping up some unemployed residents seeking work.
For an employer, drug testing is a way to steer clear of potential pitfalls in prospective workers. About 80 percent of Indiana companies have been affected by some sort of prescription drug misuse or abuse, including opioids, in the workplace, according to a survey by the National Safety Council.
Columbus-based Elwood Staffing, which screens prospective employees for some of the area’s largest employers — including Cummins Inc., NTN Driveshaft, Enkai and Honda — sees about 5 percent of its screenings come back positive for some type of drug, said Mark Elwood, the company’s chairman and CEO.
That testing eliminates several hundred potential job candidates over the course of a year, Elwood said.
Drug tests screen for a wide variety of illegal substances, including opioids, but the majority of failures are from marijuana use, he said.
Elwood Staffing screens every applicant with a drug test, something that is well known among job seekers, to the point where some applicants won’t apply through the company because of that policy, he said.
But with an estimated 1,400 unfilled jobs in Bartholomew County, compared to about 500 in 2004, some local firms are showing a greater willingness to be flexible, Elwood said.
“Companies are starting to re-examine screening requirements, and some are more willing to accept information in a background check that in previous years would not have been allowed,” Elwood said. “There is just a lot of churn in our employment market right now — so much competition for workers.”
It is not uncommon for candidates at one business or industry to have multiple offers to choose from, Elwood said. If a job doesn’t work out with Company A, Company B will hire that person the next day, he said.
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