Program seeks to sign up laid-off miners for training, assistance

December 3, 2012 

An Eastern Kentucky program is sponsoring events for laid-off coal miners to sign up for job training and other assistance that could be financed by a federal grant.

Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program Inc. has applied for an emergency grant of several million dollars to help miners hit by a downturn in the region's coal economy.

The program has not yet been awarded the grant, but staffers want to enroll people now to be ready in case the money comes through.

Nearly 1,700 miners have lost jobs in the region this year, the organization said in a news release Monday.

More than 1,000 will lose unemployment benefits in the next few months unless Congress extends payments, according to the news release.

The program has set up three days under its Hiring Our Miners Everyday, or HOME, initiative for people to register for help from the prospective federal grant.

The dates and places are:

 Dec. 12, Perry County JobSight, 412 Roy Campbell Drive, Hazard.

 Dec. 17, Pikeville Campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College, 120 South Riverfill Drive, Pikeville.

 Dec. 19, Harlan Extension Office Depot, 110 River Street, Harlan.

The time on each event is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. People who want to register must bring a valid driver's license and a Social Security card.

Spouses of out-of-work miners and other employees of shuttered coal operations also can register.

If the grant comes through, it would pay for job training, education in basic academic skills or certification and licensing, and skilled apprenticeships, according to the news release.

The program also is working to set up a network of employers willing to train former miners at new jobs, with the HOME initiative paying part of the workers' wages.

"These miners are safety-conscious, dependable, skilled team players who are capable of working in many job settings," said Jeff Whitehead, executive director of the jobs program.

Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program provides services to people seeking work and to employers in 23 Eastern Kentucky counties.

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