Julia Roberts Goad
PIKEVILLE, KY - The Pike County Fiscal Court heard about a program designed to help an ever-growing population: out of work coal miners.
Mike Cornett with Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) explained how his organization is helping those who have lost their jobs due to the downturn in the coal industry.
“This an exciting bit of news,” Cornett said. “Coal is going to be the life’s blood of this region for many years to come. But we have a reality to deal with when there are bumps in the road. Our mission is jobs for people, people for jobs. It applies most appropriately to the coal industry.”
Cornett said EKCEP is launching Hiring Our miners Everyday.
“It stands for HOME,” He explained.”We hope those who have lost their jobs in the mining industry won’t have to go to other states or regions of Kentucky.”
HOME will be funded with proceeds from a national emergency grant for the US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration
The program will provide more than career advising and job search assistance. In addition, it will provide services not only to out of work miners, but their spouses as well.
On the job training (OJT) will be made available, which is truly a win-win, Cornett said.
“With OJT, a person is a full employee from day one.,” he explained. “The grant pays majority of training wages while they train. They are earning while they’re learning and the employer is able to have them on staff at very minimal cost.”
HOME will also offer classroom based training for basic skills and certifications and licensing training for other skills and skilled apprenticeships for things like electrical, plumbing, HVAC.
Cornett said miners have a combination of a specific skill set and work experience that makes them a desirable employee.
“They can use the particular skills they have, along with their dependability, the work ethic, in new sectors,” he said.
Cornett spoke to the Fiscal Court to ask them to use their contacts in the county to network between employers and those who EKCEP serves.
“We are trying to build an army of employers who will stand for this movement and the coal industry and agree to breach the gap and to help these miners get into some training opportunities that will lead to new careers,” he said.
“If you are aware of any opportunities or employers, call 606 435-8486,” he said. “If you know of employers that would do OJT training for our miners, please call as we are moving forward. We need your help in order to do that.”
Judge Rutherford also suggested Cornett attend monthly meetings with a coalition headed by Carol Napier.
“The coalition brings all the federal state and local non-profits together every month to discuss what is available to people who need assistance in the county and make sure no one falls through the cracks,” Rutherford said.
Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford said he was glad the cycle of people leaving the area due to the volatility of the coal industry was being addressed by the HOME program.
“We have a migrating cycle,” Rutherford said. “In 70s we had 80,000 people, now down to a little over 64,000. Hopefully this program will keep people from leaving.”