Workforce Success Story Submitted By:
WorkForce West Virginia
Duke Messer came to the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Career Center after being laid off from a local mine equipment repair center. Mr. Messer, an experienced welder, was deeply concerned that he would not be able to find work that provided the standard of living to which his family was accustomed.
The UMWA Career Center has established a New Miner Training program with various levels of training for persons interested in coal mining as a career. This program aspires to train youth, adult and dislocated WIA-eligible participants to become coalminers for the entire industry including large companies, mid-size companies, small companies, and companies that are union or nonunion. The program’s goal is not only to increase the participant’s occupational skills by giving them the necessary instruction to enter the mining industry but to also place emphasis on workplace safety. The UMWA Career Center was awarded a 2009-2010 Governor’s Discretionary State Set-Aside Grant with a promised outcome to train and obtain employment for forty-five people. Duke Messer was one of these individuals.
According to the training staff, Duke proved to be one of the best students attending the course. He had an amazing work ethic and was very productive in class. While enrolled, he actively sought potential employment opportunities in the coal industry.
Outcomes & Benefits
Uncharacteristically, Duke arrived late to the New Miner Training commencement ceremony. He explained that he was at a job interview. Duke was offered that position and quickly moved up to an electrical apprenticeship program with wages of more than $20.00 per hour. He is proud to once again be able to provide for his family, and his confidence has improved greatly. He did not think he would have the opportunity to find a position in the coal industry or to excel so quickly in an electrical apprenticeship position.