The coal industry has lost more than 40 percent of its workforce in recent years. Out-of-work miners have had to find jobs in other fields.
Former miners are heading to the classroom, using many of the same skills they used underground.
In Boone County, West Virginia, coal mining has provided work for seven generations of Billy Jack Buzzard’s family. He became a miner when he was 18, right after graduating high school.
Three years ago, Buzzard lost his job.
“It was horrible. I got laid off, lost my vehicle, lost my house,” he said. “There was no Plan B.”
But the 29-year-old found one in June, swapping his hard hat for a laptop.
He was accepted into a free training program called “Mined Minds” that teaches former coal miners to become computer coders, creating apps, websites, and games…