JOHNSON COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT ) - City and state leaders are hoping a new training center can help provide a better future for out of work coal miners.
Monday morning the East Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute began classes training students for manufacturing jobs.
The first class at the institute consists of thirteen students, most with backgrounds in coal mining.
"30 plus years between hauling coal, mechanicing [sic], electrician," said Chris Mitchell, a student in the program.
One thing the students have in common is they all experienced being laid off from work.
“Wonderful, wonderful it was all the excitement building up to it and leading up to it, it's going to be everything we thought it was going to be," said Buford Owens, a Johnson County native who spent about 30 years in the coal mining industry.
The East Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute, located in Paintsville, provides students with hands-on training for jobs in the manufacturing industry.
“Sixteen weeks, there are fifteen weeks of technical training a lot of that is at first in the classroom, a lot of math to start with," said Kathy Walker, Director of the institute.
Once students graduate from the institute officials will help them find jobs in the manufacturing industry.
Officials said jobs in manufacturing industry will pay the same or more as what former coal miners were making.
Walker said they spent about three years getting the institute open and they believe the region is full of people with the potential to do well in manufacturing roles.
"They see how easily, we have watched and observed how easily that natural skillset, it's almost in the DNA of people from this area," said Walker.
Monday, Kentucky Power presented the institute with a 122,000 dollar grant to help fund the program.
"If you have a school like this everything else clusters to it because you know the workforce coming out of here can handle this high priced, extremely advanced machinery," said Matt Satterwhite, President of Kentucky Power.
If you would like to learn more about the program you can visit www.ekyami.com.