Ohio University

Closing the Skills Gap for Coal Mine Workers

This second webinar of a two-part series focuses on coal mining, generally outlining the researchers’ assessment of the skills of displaced coal economy workers and how well these skills match the skills required in emerging occupations in the Appalachian region. There is a discussion of Ohio’s energy generation assets, trends, and employment scenarios followed by a workforce analysis of coal mine workers and an explanation of the CareerOneStop “compare occupations” tool. 

Ohio has historically relied upon coal, a non-renewable resource, due to its low cost and abundance within the Appalachian region, however the state’s declining coal economy leads researchers to believe that jobs in this industry are unlikely to rebound. Displaced workers in the coal industry need to find work elsewhere and this webinar provides occupational transition “heat maps” to assist with career changes. 

The study’s results reinforce a previous observation that transitions to new employment opportunities will require retraining while also proposing additional challenges associated with such transitions. Relatively easy transitions are associated with a decrease in median hourly wages whereas challenging transitions are not feasible for a majority of displaced workers. Likewise, transportation costs associated with retraining and low digital literacy limiting access to information may also complicate the transition process.