Appalachian Miners Trade Coal for Code, Digging Computer Skills

Appalachian Miners Trade Coal for Code, Digging Computer Skills

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Coal to Code CC Nottsexminer CC HackNY

Eastern Kentucky miners who once dug for coal are now digging for a Ruby — Ruby script, that is, learning coding languages for computer software.

Tech start-up Bit Source started turning miners into coders in 2014, seeking laid-off coal miners to become computer programmers. Its founders believe that miners with practical engineering experience working with heavy equipment will have a natural aptitude for writing code.GNN-app-banner-ad-opt

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The former laborers each spend five months learning new skills while a Labor Department grant, and other similar funding, pays their wages during the training period.

Coal production in the region dropped from 110 million tons produced in 2001 to less than 30 million last year. With coal fields disappearing, miners are looking for a new line of work, and the $70,000 starting salary for coders is close to what they were making in the mines.

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“We’ve got a lot of high-skilled hillbillies here,” Rusty Justice, Bit Source co-founder told Bloomberg Business. “We want to prove we can run a tech business from the hills of eastern Kentucky.”

(READ more at Bloomberg) — Photos: Nottsexminer, CC; hackNY, CC

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