Canaries Get Company in Coal Mines: Recent Grads

Industry luring youth to replace aging workforce
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2007 4:30 PM CDT
Members of the Doe Run Mining Company's "maroon" mine rescue team emerge from the University of Missouri-Rolla's experimental mine after completing a mock rescue during a competition Wednesday, Sept....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Coal-mining companies are successfully recruiting college kids, promising better work conditions than the industry’s muddied image might suggest, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Some 60% of the current workforce could retire over the next decade, and jobs are suddenly abundant; young people are finding themselves explaining to their parents that there’s money and career security to be found underground.

Executives say the work is “not as backbreaking as it once was,” and miners at age 30 can now expect positions once unavailable until 40. Another recruiter stressed that modern shafts don’t fit the historically cramped mold: Miners can now stand up in tunnels. Such pitches seem to be working, as enrollment in college programs climbed 14% in the past year.