Comeback for coal?

23 Oct 2017


President Trump has rolled back regulations with the promise of revitalizing the coal industry—a welcome notion for many in coal country.

So is coal poised for a comeback? Not necessarily, according to some experts. “I put the range of possibilities at somewhere to a continuing small decline to a small growth,” Ken Troske, Sturgill Professor of Economics at the University of Kentucky told the Herald Leader. “We are not going to recover the coal jobs we’ve seen in the state lost in the last decade.”

Luckily, the enterprising people of Eastern Kentucky have other options. It turns out the skill set of coal miners closely matches that of many advanced manufacturing trades, and business leaders and workers are joining forces to rebuild the region as a manufacturing center.

One example: eKentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute, a specialized training program designed to increase the existing skills of former coal workers for advanced manufacturing jobs. Trainees learn Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining—running the highly technical computers that operate lathes, routers, grinders, and other machines that build high-precision parts for the US manufacturing industry.

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