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Former coal miners looking toward manufacturing industry

By: Michelle Heron Email
By: Michelle Heron Email

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) The Eastern Kentucky region has relied on the coal industry for decades.

But with stricter guidelines and fewer jobs, many are looking elsewhere for a paycheck.

The turnout at Tuesday’s manufacturing job fair through the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) Program speaks volumes.

Coal miners in Eastern Kentucky like Lowell Sanders are struggling.

“The only thing a person can do is get a minimum wage job, which I’m working now, but it doesn’t work anything out,” Sanders said.

After searching for two years, Sanders is now looking toward the manufacturing industry.

“It’s job security. There’s always stuff being manufactured and bought,” Sanders added.

It’s a trend many, like Sanders, are making as the coal industry continues to decline; showing up to job fairs hoping to land something with one of the state’s top manufactures.

“I do think there has to be a sector in our region for mass employment. We can’t just go completely entrepreneurial; we can’t go completely to farms. We can’t go to these things that employ small numbers of people. We need a mass employer,” H.O.M.E. Spokesman Michael Cornett said.

Cornett says making the transition from coal into manufacturing is easier than you think.

“[Coal miners] are used to having to think on their feet, having to think on the fly with a lot of ingenuity and really a lot of intellect and people should really give them more credit than they do for that,” Cornett added.

For companies that take online applications, the Job Sight also has computers that job seekers can use to apply online.

The H.O.M.E. Program will be holding their next job fair with Patriot Coal on January 7th, 2014. For more information, just click the link below.

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