CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Recently laid-off West Virginia coal miners can receive training in another field thanks to a federal grant.
The state of West Virginia received a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide retraining and re-employment services to dislocated coal miners and eligible family members.
“So that they can get back into the workforce and possibly change careers,” said WorkForce West Virginia Deputy Executive Director Valerie Comer.
The grant, administered by WorkForce West Virginia, can provide eligible participants up to $5,000 in funds for classroom occupational skills training. The funds are also available to spouses and other family members living in the home.
In addition, Comer said participants can also receive a training allowance.
“Which is $20 per day that they are in classroom training and they can use that $20 towards transportation, towards their lunches or their meals, towards gas or whatever they need and they can earn up to $100 a week,” she said.
The funding can be used for training in high-demand fields such as health-related occupations, commercial truck driving, welding, electrical engineering, HVAC repair, diesel technology and chemical processing.
The training would be done either at community colleges or through available short-term training programs.
Comer said they realize it can be hard for a coal miner to find another job or that it may be scary for them to think about training and that is why WorkForce West Virginia is here to help in the process.
“We’ll assist them in making career choices for the future and educate them on what training opportunities are available, look at their strengths and weaknesses and where they might want to be trained or what they might want to pursue,” she said.
Miners and their families who are interested in learning more are encouraged to visit their local WorkForce West Virginia office or call 1-800-252-JOBS. Information is also available online at www.workforcewv.org.
Comer said the funds are available and West Virginians can begin signing up right now.
The current grant is expected to cover around 200 people, but additional grants or extensions could be applied for in the future to provide assistance for more coal miners and their families.