ACTC Classes Help Laid-Off AK Steel Workers

Over 30 employees who were laid off from AK Steels Ashland Works last December are using their down time to take classes this spring at Ashland Community and Technical College.

Im hoping to return to AK Steel and work maintenance, but if AK closes, I will be able to seek employment in the Industrial Maintenance field elsewhere, said Trevor Cole. A Flatwoods resident, he graduated from Greenup County High School in 2003. He is one of several students enrolled in the Industrial Maintenance program to learn a variety of workforce skills.

You cant go wrong investing in education. said Corey Thomas, a Raceland resident and 1991 Raceland High School graduate. This can help me get from operations to maintenance and get on a better shift, even a day turn maybe."

Like many of the more than six hundred laid off workers, the students are uncertain when or if theyll be called back to work. They are hoping that the new skills will help them if called back to work or will improve their job opportunities if the plant does not reopen.

Im learning new skills to advance my career in the future, wherever that future might be, said Jason Easter, a 2000 West Carter High School graduate now living in Proctorville. Ive had friends and family go to ACTC, and the teaching staff is amazing.

The AK workers are primarily enrolled in technical programs including HVAC, Electrical Technology, Computer Assisted Drafting amp; Design, Lineman, Welding and Computers and Information Technology that can lead to industry-recognized certifications. There are also a few in Business Administration, Criminal Justice and Associate in Arts or Associate in Science programs that can help people upgrade their knowledge and skills while working on an associate degree.

The mass layoff at AK Steels Ashland Works announced in October didnt take effect until December, when some of the laid workers enrolled for January ACTC classes. Word on whether or not the layoffs are permanent is expected later this spring. The AK employers taking classes during their downtime through a steel mill and union funded education program were the subject of a news story by WOWK Channel 13 on January 27.

The College is working well with AK Steel to help us further our education, said Jonathan Wes Hughes, a 2005 Boyd County High School graduate now living in Louisa. He is taking classes in the Applied Process Technologies Program and hopes to get a degree that will help him get a job in chemical or power plant operations. This gives me the opportunity to go to school, be with my kids more, and get a better job, so Im looking at this as a blessing in disguise."