Help Wanted: Man chooses education after layoff

What would you do if faced with a layoff after 30 years in the same job?

That’s what happened to Mike Curtsinger. He’s one of the 300 people who faced that reality at the Verso paper mill in Wickliffe.

"What’s life without surprises?" said Mike, with a chuckle.

He didn’t necessarily see himself, at this point in life anyway, helping watch his granddaughters.

"There are people in worse shape than me by far," Mike explained.

Despite facing a layoff from the Verso paper mill, he feels lucky. This quality time with his granddaughters isn’t something he got a lot of with his sons.

"When the boys were growing up, I was working swing shift," Mike said. "I was missing games, school activities."

When he lost his job at the mill, he searched for work. Mike, like many of his coworkers, attended hiring events centered around helping that group.

Mike said he soon realized that, "You’ve got this many people out of work, and they’re doing the same thing you’re doing." 

He did apply to a lot of different businesses.

"You fill out everything they want you to fill out. You submit it. I guess they got it, but you hear nothing," said Mike, explaining his frustration with the primarily online hiring process in today’s job market. 

No one employer bit. That’s when he made the decision to further his education. 

"I go to school from five until 10 o’clock. So, that gives me my day, you know, and, my day involves these two," Mike said, pointing to his granddaughters.

Mike is now training to be an HVAC technician. Some helpful guidance from the Kentucky Career Center led him to the Applied Technologies program through West Kentucky Community and Technical College. It’s a new skill that will allow him to do what he loves: fix things. 

His layoff from the paper mill isn’t the first layoff he’s experienced. What he’s been through has taught him something important.

"There are no guarantees," Mike told Local 6.

Except, he says, of this: They can take away his job, but no one can take away his education.

Mike plans to start summer school soon to finish up his training. In the fall, he will take his general education courses.

To learn more about the WKCTC Applied Technologies program, click here.

To learn more about the Kentucky Career Center, click here.

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