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Nearly 1,700 Eastern Kentucky coal miners have lost their jobs in 2012 after several rounds of layoffs and mine closures.
More than 400 of those miners could stop receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits at the end of this month—with about 800 more following suit in February 2013—unless Congress intervenes.
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 get in place to receive the support and training needed to get back into the workforce at three 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
The events will take place from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at each location.
Attendees should bring a valid driver’s license and Social Security card.
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.
H.O.M.E. is a service of 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.
According to EKCEP Executive Director Jeff Whitehead, the need for such an initiative has scarcely been greater.
“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,” Whitehead 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.
“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,” he said.
Through H.O.M.E., miners, coal company staff, and their spouses may receive:
• On-the-Job Training (OJT)
• Classroom training in basic academic skills or certification and licensing
• Skilled apprenticeships
Additionally, miners can enroll to receive assistance through EKCEP’s full array of services, which include the award-winning work-from-home Kentucky Teleworks initiative, the regional Job Clubs of Eastern Kentucky support group and employer-networking program, as well as expert-led job search and resume assistance and detailed career assessments.
EKCEP is also working to build a team of employers in the region who are willing to hire out-of-work miners enrolled in the H.O.M.E. program for skilled On-the-Job Training positions at their businesses.
These employers would agree to hire program participants in jobs for which they are suited, and H.O.M.E. would fund a significant portion of the participants’ training wages.
“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.
“H.O.M.E. truly is a ‘win-win’ for both sides of the workforce equation,” Whitehead added. “We just need both sides of that equation to let us know they’re ready to join us in rebuilding our region’s economy.”