Bill Maher’s Question of Retraining Coal Miners Has an Answer

So far, President Donald Trump has made jobs the main focus of his first weeks in office. He has taken economic steps to preserve and bring back jobs in manufacturing and energy through executive orders, but regardless of what Trump does, there are market forces that just can’t be stopped.

One worker that is seeing this irreversible change is the coal miner, however, Trump has promised to reopen the coal mines and get miners back to work. But can he really do it — and is that really the best thing he can do for coal workers?

As Bill Maher pointed out Friday to his panel of conservative talk show host Tomi Lahren, GOP strategist Rick Wilson and former Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander, on his HBO show, Real Time With Bill Maher, “[…] there are five times more solar workers than coal miners. Do you know that?

“Tell this to the coal miners,” Lahren replied. “They are out of business in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.”

Maher, who is a well-known environmentalist countered, “Why do we have to cling to the worst job ever?”

“Because that’s all they know. It’s all they have,” Lahren explained to which Maher replied, “They could maybe be retrained.”

Bill Maher on Coal Miners’ Jobs and Retraining

Bill Maher asks his panel why we need to save coal miners jobs instead of helping them be retrained on his HBO show, “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Feb. 3, 2017.

Well yes, Maher, they can — and they are. The truth is coal miners’ jobs are becoming obsolete because of advances in energy, and for people who relied on this job for generations, there are ways they can change course.

One organization that helping coal miners reinvent themselves for the new workforce is AmeriCorps VISTA. VISTA members are helping coal miners in Eastern Kentucky get the workplace skills needed for the future. With their help, 200 people went back into the workforce.

“I hope that I can pass down what I’ve learned here to my son,” said Jamie Adams, a coal miner turned coder who found a job with AmeriCorps’ help.

AmeriCorps VISTA connecting coal miners to new jobs

Learn how AmeriCorps VISTA members support the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program in connecting out-of-work coal miners with new jobs. For fifty years, AmeriCorps VISTA has strengthened the efforts to eliminate poverty in our nation’s rural and urban communities To learn more visit

It’s actions like this that will best serve people who are finding themselves without jobs due to a changing market, advancements in technology, and the implementation of automation.

For more examples of organizations who have been helping prepare people for the future of work, click here.

Find resources that can help you carve your new path here.


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