PIKEVILLE, Ky. — To date, nearly 1,700 eastern Kentucky coal miners have lost their jobs this year after several rounds of both layoffs and mine closures.
More than 400 of those miners could stop receiving enemployment insurance benefits at the end of this month, with about 800 more following suit in February 2013, unless Congress were to intervene.
Even as those deadlines loom, help toward finding out-of-work miners new skilled job opportunities and training is in the works through the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) initiative. Qualified miners can sign up to receive the support and training needed to get back into the workforce at three upcoming H.O.M.E. open enrollment events set for this month in eastern Kentucky.
The signup events will be held:
• Wednesday, Dec. 12 – Perry County JobSight, 412 Roy Campbell Drive, Hazard;
• Monday, Dec. 17 – Pikeville Campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College, 120 South Riverfill Drive, Pikeville;
• Wednesday, Dec. 19 – Harlan Extension Office Depot, 110 River Street, Harlan.
Each event will take place from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Attendees should bring a valid driver’s license and Social Security card.
H.O.M.E. is a service of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), a nonprofit workforce development organization that provides federally funded jobseeker and employer services in 23 Appalachian Kentucky counties.
“There’s an urgency for EKCEP to provide this assistance because hundreds of our region’s miners are without jobs and could lose their Unemployment Insurance very shortly,” Jeff Whitehead, EKCEP Executive Director, said. “This initiative will allow us to assist our dislocated miners like we already do every day, but with a clear and direct focus on helping them rapidly find new job and training opportunities.”
EKCEP has applied for a multi-million dollar National Emergency Grant (NEG) from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration to power the H.O.M.E. initiative.
Spouses of out-of-work miners may qualify for assistance through H.O.M.E. if they are out of work and need to return to the workforce. Other employees from closed coal operations, such as office staff and on-site support, can also sign up.
Through H.O.M.E., miners, coal company staff, and their spouses may receive on-the-job training; classroom training in basic academic skills or certification and licensing; and skilled apprenticeships.
“We want these miners to be able to train, work, and remain here in their home region without uprooting their families for jobs in other states or regions of Kentucky,” Whitehead said.
“These miners are safety conscious, dependable, skilled team players who are capable of working in many job settings,” Whitehead said. “Thanks to H.O.M.E., the miners would be earning while they’re learning a new job, and their employer is able to have them on staff at very minimal cost to the business.
For more information, contact EKCEP’s Bridget Back at 606-435-8486. Employers interested in hiring enrolled miners may contact EKCEP’s Joyce Wilcox at 606-226-1597. For more on EKCEP, visit www.ekcep.org or www.facebook.com/ekcep.