Mines to Minds: New Jobs-Training Program
WHITESBURG, Ky. – With the loss of thousands of coal jobs in Kentucky, the search has intensified for ways to create a more diverse economy.
Next month, Whitesburg-based Appalshop is launching Mines to Minds, a training program with a semester of college classes followed by six months of on-the-job high tech training.
Mines to Minds director Shawn Lind says while the program has laid-off coal miners in mind, it's open to anyone looking for a new career.
"The economy of eastern Kentucky has really had a big downturn in the coal industry, so we have to creatively think of ways to shift that economy to a high-tech economy," he states.
Lind says applications are being accepted through Jan. 5 for the program's inaugural class of up to 30 students.
He says the student pays for the college courses at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and then receives a six-month apprenticeship with an employer in the region.
Lind says students can choose what track to follow, including one that will prepare them to work with Internet tools that businesses use.
"So they'll be setting up servers and routers and switches, just everything to keep the Internet going,” he explains. “The other one will be more of a marketing or branding and using different digital tools to get communications out into the world."
Lind says four businesses already are part of the collaborative training program and more are interested. He maintains Mines to Minds can help the region take another step forward in its economic shift.
"The coal miners have some of the best work ethics around,” he states. “Our program's not to change that work ethic. Our process is to give them additional skills to use."