The majority of the world would likely believe – based solely their representation in popular culture – that all people raised in Kentucky live in shacks and have no taste beyond bluegrass music and no intellect beyond fifth grade. In the past several years, with the challenges presented to the environment and the need for clean coal production, Kentucky has come near financial collapse with the loss of coal jobs and without a lucrative industry to replace it.
While we mainly hear about the destruction of Appalachian areas, western Kentucky has also been dependent upon the severance taxes provided by many coal companies in the area. Kentucky, like other states, must learn to move into the future by not only using cleaner forms of energy for power generation, but also by being prepared to conserve the natural resources that it has left. Not only has the coal been removed, but many natural resources have also been depleted as well. Still, we must always remember that coal powered the industrial revolution, provided jobs for thousands of Americans and in some instances, yes – it still keeps the lights on.
However, there might be a way out for those who feel trapped. Silicon Valley is about to experience a bit more competition in the tech industry as training comes to Appalachia. A grant was made available to provide underemployed and unemployed Kentuckians coding education. Then, graduates of the program will be assisted in finding jobs that are available. Fortunately, many of the individuals have found local employment.
Those completing the program are provided with a certificate of completion as the equivalent of a two- or four-year college degree. Not only are jobs being provided to the unemployed, but also the positions which are being filled are desirable. The tech and manufacturing industries are in need of skilled labor, and the coal industry can certainly supply the demand.
Those taking the course are surprised at how quickly it moves, as quickly as technology itself perhaps. Coding is now being taught in early grade levels and certain middle school classes. Kentucky has realized that coal production is part of its past, and it can no longer provide the secure financial support that it once afforded the state.
While coal will always be a part of the culture and history of Kentucky, it is making necessary changes with the rest of the world. I doubt many bluegrass songs will be written about coding, but anything is possible. You can't drive down a street here without seeing a "friend of coal" sticker; coal built this country and we shouldn't forget that. In fact, many men lost their lives for very little money just to bring it up out of the ground.
As we move into the future with cleaner forms of energy, let us not forget all of the sacrifices that have been made for us by past generations, and strive to make the future a better place for the generation to come. Advanced technology and clean energy brought about in part by coding Kentuckians are in our very prosperous future.