Where will Wyoming’s displaced fossil fuel workers go?

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“What happens is that people rush to the quickest paycheck they can get themselves back to, right, because why wouldn’t they,” Anderson said. “They still have bills to pay, they need to get back on health care coverage, etc. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily the best option, to do the quickest-to-get option.”

Part of the challenge is timing: By the time someone’s been laid off, they’ve lost the ability to determine a path forward on their own terms, said Chauffe Schirmer, a national representative for the Utility Workers Union of America and a former employee of Wyoming’s Jim Bridger power plant.

“People make decisions to move and relocate hastily. They make decisions to take jobs hastily that then make it harder for them to get the training for what might be their ultimate goal,” Schirmer said.

But access to longer programs is often difficult for people who have been in the workforce for a while. They don’t qualify for most scholarships, and often have families and can’t afford to not work full time for the duration of a degree program.






College Guide

A students uses computers at the Goodstein Foundation Library at Casper College in February 2020. The college offers multiple options for adults learning to change careers.




A handful of lawmakers have for the past several years attempted to create a state-sponsored scholarship specifically for adult learners 24 years and older called the “Wyoming’s Tomorrow Scholarship.”

The proposal has died in the Legislature each time, but did catch the ear of Mary Ellbogen, president of the Wyoming-focused John P. Ellbogen Foundation. That foundation has created a scholarship to mirror the lawmakers’ proposal. In its first year, the scholarship awarded $500,000 across eight community colleges to assist adults looking to better their situations — families particularly.

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