Over time, employment in the coal industry has declined; it is down by 8.6 percent from its peak before the epidemic. Many individuals who left the business are hesitant to return, and young people are even more cautious of working in an industry that they’ve been told has no future in light of the worldwide drive toward renewable energy.
Due to the global energy crisis, utilities are scrambling to find whatever coal they can get their hands on, making it difficult for mining firms to increase output. It will be difficult to maintain energy reserves despite rising coal prices across the globe, as shown by workforce shortages.
According to Erin Higginson, a recruiter with Custom Staffing Services in the Illinois Basin, “they used to stroll into our offices”. To locate just a few, we have job fairs all over the place.” Her search for 300 new mining employees is three times as extensive as it was a year ago. It’s becoming more challenging to recruit new miners. Mineworkers have transferred their expertise to auto manufacturers, building sites, and other industries where the hours are less taxing. Even while salaries in the mining industry are rising, so are those in other sectors. Employees are more interested in jobs that allow them to combine work and family life.
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According to Xcoal’s Thrasher, “an energy shift is underway.” “However, it will take a lot longer than people expect.”
One coal dealer in Pennsylvania, Ernie Thrasher, estimates that mining firms are increasing salaries by 10 to 12 percent compared to 2019 levels. Thrasher deals with numerous suppliers. A miner may now earn over $100,000 a year working extra. They haven’t enticed any of their former employees back after the epidemic laid off around 200 people. Thrasher claims that miners who have left the business aren’t returning, and new ones aren’t entering either. According to him, the coal industry is “dead or dying.” Youth have a more comprehensive range of options available to them.
CEO of the National Mining Association, Rich Nolan, claims that mining firms are becoming more inventive to fill open positions. Some are also providing additional perks like childcare in addition to the increased salary. It’s a challenge to get workers these days, he lamented. Employers are using every tactic to bring in top talent.”
Furthermore, the mining industry urgently needs additional workers. There have been shortages of power in Europe and Asia since the pandemic’s recovery began. Since natural gas costs have risen, utilities have relied more heavily on coal to generate electricity.
However, miners’ inability to increase production limits the rise in demand. There has been a worldwide effort in recent years to reduce carbon emissions that are causing climate change, and coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel. Coal firms have started shutting mines and laying off workers. Clean energy advocates in the local and federal government increasingly realize the dangers of eschewing fossil fuels too fast and take steps to mitigate those risks.
It is expected that total US production will remain below 2019 levels despite a 12 percent expected recovery, according to official statistics.