Despite bleak prospects for coal's future, many coal miners are rejecting job training for new skills in hopes that President Trump will ignite a coal resurgence.
Despite broad consensus about coal’s bleak future, a years-long effort to diversify the economy of this hard-hit region away from mining is stumbling, with Obama-era jobs retraining classes undersubscribed and future programs at risk under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget. Trump has promised to revive coal by rolling back environmental regulations and moved to repeal Obama-era curbs on carbon emissions from power plants.
Mike Sylvester, a Trump supporter interviewed by Reuters for their article, believes that President Trump will usher in a renaissance of coal. Instead of learning new skills, Sylvester will continue his focus on coal mining.
When Mike Sylvester entered a career training center earlier this year in southwestern Pennsylvania, he found more than one hundred federally funded courses covering everything from computer programming to nursing. He settled instead on something familiar: a coal mining course. ”I think there is a coal comeback,” said the 33-year-old son of a miner. “I have a lot of faith in President Trump,” Sylvester said.
Coal miners are banking on President Trump keeping his promise on a coal resurgence. Participation in job-training remains low.
In southern Pennsylvania, where the industry still has ample reserves and is showing flickers of life, federal jobs retraining programs see sign-up rates below 20 percent, the officials and recruiters said. In southern Virginia’s coal country, participation rates run about 50 percent, they said.