Miners going from coal to coding

(CBS) -- In Boone County, West Virginia, coal mining has provided work for seven generations of Billy Jack Buzzard's family.

Three years ago, Buzzard lost his job at a coal plant.

"It was horrible. I got laid off, lost my vehicle, lost my house," Buzzard said.
"Did you have a plan B?" asked CBS News' Weija Jiang.
"No. There was no plan B," he said.

But the 29-year-old found one in June, swapping his hard hat for a laptop.

He was accepted into a free training program called "Mined Minds" that teaches former coal miners to become computer coders, creating apps, websites, and games.

Founder Amanda Laucher started the non-profit in Pennsylvania in 2015, because her younger brother was worried about losing his coal mining job.

"In just a few months we realized they're really good. They're going off and learning stuff we haven't even done yet," Laucher says.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin invited the group to his state.

"We saw that, called them, and said would you come to our jobs fair?" he says.

Manchin helped Mined Minds establish headquarters near West Virginia's capital with federal grants.

"Do you think coding is a game changer in West Virginia?" Jiang asked Manchin.

"I think it gives us a chance to diversify ourselves and be something people think we are not," he replied.

Manchin points out modern mining and coding require similar skills, especially in math and problem-solving.

"We're not a bunch of idiots out here. We're not a bunch of hillbillies and hill jacks. There are some very smart individuals here," Buzzard says.

Buzzard's ultimate goal: helping turn his home from "coal country" to "code country".