Former coal worker finds new career in technology

Former coal worker finds new career in technology

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PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) -- Steven Bowling used to work in the coal industry.

"I loved that. I was actually working for an explosives company. I was an explosives technician," Steven Bowling said.

But in 2015, he was laid off and had to work minimum wage jobs.

"Right before this was for a fast food restaurant, something I hadn't done since I was in high school," Bowling said.

Bowling said thankfully, his wife had saved some money.

"If it hadn't been for her, we would have lost everything we got," Bowling said.

Then one day, Bowling heard about TechHire Eastern Kentucky.

"Every job I've had I've always been the go-to guy for anything technologically-based. 'Steve can fix it,'" Bowling said.

So although they were seeking students ages 19 to 29, Bowling applied at the age of 40.

"It was tough trying to go back to school when I hadn't done it in 20-something years, and here I'm working side-by-side 18, 19, 20-year-olds," Bowling said.

And after a work-based internship with Interapt, Bowling, and the other 34 graduates will help create apps and build applications for iOS and Android devices.

"Even if it's not right here in eastern Kentucky, this is something you can do remotely. So I could get hired on with a company in California and still live and work right here in Eastern Kentucky, still bring revenue and income to here from other states," Bowling said.

Which program organizers say is why the TEKY Program is important to this area.

"We need new economic opportunity and job creation opportunities in this region in a way where people don't have to relocate to get those jobs," said Michael Cornett, the Director of agency expansion for Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program.

As for Bowling, he says it took him awhile, but now he's back on track.

"I really enjoyed it. I really did," Bowling said.

This was the first class of Computer Coders to graduate from TechHire Eastern Kentucky.

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