Friday, September 30, 2005

Coal mines in North Central West Virginia have begun to advertise for new miners -- workers who will be needed to fill the role that the state continues to play in supplying the nation's energy needs.

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.

Beginning Oct. 20, a new underground miner orientation program will be offered at various locations in the region. The "Red Hat" course is being presented by Fairmont State Community & Technical College.

The first series of classes will be held at the Fred Eberle Technical Center in Buckhannon, W.Va. The course is offered Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, from 5 to 10 p.m., Oct. 20 through Nov. 10.

A separate class will be held at Fairmont State's Center for Workforce Education, 320 Adams St., Suite G01, downtown Fairmont. This series of classes will be held every day, except Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Nov. 14 through 23.

"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. Unlike in the past, however, this industry utilizes advanced technology systems to produce coal. The student who is tech-savvy and works to further his or her education will be the one who is the most successful in the long run."

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 the program is $350. Training materials and study guides are included in the cost. An additional $10 fee is required for the final examination, which must be paid by the student directly to the W.Va. 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 people and pre-registration is required. Detailed information, class schedules and a registration form is available on the web at www.pierpont.edu/ce.

For more information, please call the Center for Workforce Education at Fairmont State (304) 367-4920.