Still searching for work, laid off coal miners and their spouses attended a training roundup hosted by the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (HOME) Program at the Harlan County Depot on Thursday.
Among the agencies participating in the event were representatives from two employers, the Kentucky Coal Academy, Workforce Investment and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) Workforce Solutions
“I’ve been laid off for the past year,” said James Miller, 43, of Calvin in Bell County. “I was working in Ison with a mountain-top removal operation driving from Bell County, but I haven’t been able to find any work since that time. I’m trying to get into school so I can improve my education and get another job.”
Laid off miner Stephen Morton, 26, of Baxter, said he has been out of work since Dec. 1. He said he was driving to Leslie County to work when he was laid off.
“I’m looking into the possibility of going back to school also,” said Morton. “Everyone here at the depot today have been so informative and they seem really interested in helping us find work or re-training possibilities. I just need to find something soon because I have a wife, a step son and a baby on the way.”
Shawn Crow, 26, of Totz, said he was laid off in November from Bledsoe Coal Company. He said he is ready for a “career change.”
“I have a family and it’s been tough at times,” said Crow. “I’m here looking for help to make that change and hopefully have a brighter future.”
Accelerated Opportunity Coordinator at SKCTC Erica Farmer said she was participating in the event to offer a way for Kentucky adults, especially dislocated coal miners, to take classes so they will be able to find better paying jobs and have a brighter future.
“Right now in Harlan County, I have welding, industrial maintenance and certified nursing assistant classes,” said Farmer. “These classes are designed for students who may need extra help in math, reading or writing. We set these classes up to be a 100 percent success rate. There is a certified instructor and an adult education instructor in every class to help those who need that extra help.”
Farmer said the majority of people seeking help seems to be dislocated miners. She said if anyone needs help with finances, choosing classes or obtaining their GED, the seminars will provide the information needed to move ahead.
“We’re all partnering together to try and help our community,” said Farmer. “You know what I tell everybody is I live here and when I help you, I’m helping myself. We’re helping each other. Harlan Countians are pulling together their resources and trying to help these people who are out of work and have families. A lot of people are from Harlan and they want to stay in Harlan. They can’t afford to pick up their families and move. My job is to help people make the transition easier, make them feel welcome and let them know they can do this.”
For more information, you may contact Farmer at 606-248-2180 or email at email@example.com.