Retraining Programs for Coal Workers in Transition: Lessons from Appalachia

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The use of coal for energy in the United States is being pushed to historic lows for a number of reasons, including the ascent of natural gas as the fuel of choice, technological advancements, environmental regulations, mechanization of extraction and the rise of renewable sources of energy. Meanwhile, coal communities around the nation are left to grapple with the consequences of coal mine and power station closures, and consequent job losses. In response, the government, and some civil society organizations, have made available several retraining programs for unemployed coal workers. However, these initiatives have largely failed to attract and retain displaced workers in the coal mining regions. Helping coal country move forward has proved more difficult than anticipated, and this paper delves into the technical and practical aspects of some of the existing programs and organizations. The paper explored three case studies of retraining initiatives in the Appalachian region, which were created specifically to help former coal workers transition to a new sector. The research explores the effectiveness of Appalachian-born responses to the mining job crisis by comparing a selection of three case studies, and an analysis of the most successful elements is discussed.
coal, retraining, Appalachia