Nine miners who took national vocational qualifications in careers guidance often found themselves going back down the pits to advise miners who are still working.
Because of shift patterns and sheer fatigue, the miners found it virtually impossible to get off site for retraining, said Claire Quinn, project co-ordinator at the Lifeskills NVQ Centre in Harrogate, north Yorkshire.
The Learning and Skills Council-funded project has successfully retrained miners in careers including youth work and health care to plumbing.
One, Paul Clegg, now lectures in health and safety at Wakefield college.
Eddie Kinsella, who achieved level 3 (A-level equivalent) in careers guidance, said: "The chance to help people with their next steps was something I wanted to do. It was a different slant on the union work I had done before."