Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New underground miner "Red Hat" orientation programs are being offered by Fairmont State Community & Technical College at various locations in North Central West Virginia.

"Opportunities exist now and into the future for jobs in area coal mines and supporting operations. The current resurgence in jobs is fueled not only by the price of coal, but also by the wave of retirement-age miners presently working in this industry," said Paul Schreffler, Director of Economic Development & Workforce Education for Fairmont State. "This program provides a minimum certification that makes a worker employable."

For more information, call the Center for Workforce Education at Fairmont State at (304) 367-4920. Class size is limited and pre-registration is required.

To take a job underground, inexperienced miners are required to complete a mining orientation training program, as well as pass a test to certify they have a basic knowledge of the industry.

Classes will be held at the Fred Eberle Technical Center in Buckhannon, W.Va. This course is offered Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, from 5 to 10 p.m., Feb. 7 through March 9.

A separate class will be held at Braxton County High School in Flatwoods, W.Va. This series of classes will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m., March 14 through April 13.

Attendance at all sessions of a course is mandatory as required by state law. Participants are asked to bring a pencil and notebook to the first class.

Tuition for this program is $350. Training materials and study guides are included in this cost. An additional $10 fee is required for the final examination, which must be paid by the student directly to the West Virginia Office of Miner's Health and Safety.

The course is designed to prepare the student for the certification exam required to become an entry-level underground coal miner. Students will be exposed to a general orientation in mining, mining health and safety, mine gases and ventilation, roof and ribs, haulage, emergency response, accident prevention and hazard recognition, and miner and operator rights and responsibilities. Participants must be 18 years of age or older.

Class size is limited to 25 persons and pre-registration is required. Detailed information, class schedules and a registration form is available on the web at www.pierpont.edu/ce.

"We are planning additional daytime classes for Fairmont, as well as evening classes in Grafton. This will allow access to this training for people throughout our region," Schreffler said.