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Editor's Notepad

Editor's Notepad

UPDATE: Mike Rowe testifies before Senate

comments (8) May 12th, 2011 in Blogs
patrick_mccombe Patrick McCombe, Associate editor

Workingmans hero, Mike Rowe tells the Senate Commerce committe that the country needs a national PR Campaign for Skilled Labor. Something that addresses the widening Skills Gap head on, and reconnects the country with the most important part of our workforce.Click To Enlarge

Workingman's hero, Mike Rowe tells the Senate Commerce committe that the country "needs a national PR Campaign for Skilled Labor. Something that addresses the widening Skills Gap head on, and reconnects the country with the most important part of our workforce."

On May 10th, TV star Mike Rowe who hosts and produces the popular Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs told the Senate Commerce committee that if we don't start respecting the folks who fix, build, and clean up our stuff, our country will be in big trouble. He described his grandfather who was a builder and plumber and the occasion when the the 12-year-old Mike Rowe flushed the toilet only to have the contents reemerge in the bowl. His grandfather came over to investigate and asked the boy to join him in the yard with a pick and shovel. By the end of the day the waste line was replaced and the toilet was back to normal. He described it as "one of my favorite days ever."

30 years later a similar thing happened, so Mike called the landlord and went to work. By the time he came home that night, the toilet was fixed and he never even met the guy who did the work. He realized that most folks are completely disconnected to the skilled trades people who make our comfortable lives possible. Mike went on to say that the lack of respect for these workers has prevented many important jobs from being filled in a time of otherwise high unemployment.

I love Mike's show and I admire his amazing gift to keep the content funny and entertaining without disrespecting the folks he works with. And his important work before the Senate only reinforces my admiration. Good job, Mike. I hope they listened.

You can read the whole testimony here.

Yesterday (5/16/2011), Mike posted a video on CNN's website discussing "America's dysfunctional relationship with hard work" and why he felt it was necessary to testify before the Senate Commerce commitee on the subject. Check it out.




posted in: Blogs, Mike Rowe
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Comments (8)

snuffer snuffer writes: Why would anyone spend the money for training in a construction related trade school if they have no hope of recovering that cost ? What do most prospective home buyers look for in a new house, fine craftsmanship or cost per square foot ? Most people either don't appreciate or else can't afford fine workmanship (most don't even recognize it).

Yes the illegals are hired by "legals". In the nonacedemic world if you can't compete you get eaten, so they have no choice but to use the cheapest labor possible. Not the most skilled.

This used to be most prevalent in residential work but now it is in all sectors of construction.

I very much appreciate Mike Rowe's efforts but I think, at least for now, the public is unwilling to do what is needed to put Americans back to work.
Posted: 6:21 pm on May 17th

woodsmith3 woodsmith3 writes: Get off it Snuffer, I don't doubt there are illegals out there but they were hired by someone who is legal. Your issue is with that person.
Also, unless they are being paid-under-the-table those illegals are losing their with holding and that goes into the pot for you and me.
I think Gadjet and Dreamcatcher are on the right track. I was a high school shop teacher and when I retired there were no credentialed shop teachers to take my place. The colleges have stopped those programs. Many high schools have remodeled their shops into art classrooms and what passes for vocational education now are business, food and hospitality training programs. This only meets a part of the needs of society.
The major obstacle I met as a shop teacher was the mindset of other teachers, administrators, counselors and parents that every incoming Freshman was college bound.
Posted: 11:47 am on May 16th

Lantz Lantz writes: Thankyou Mike Rowe for sticking up for "Bluecollar". We need more people like you and more respect for these skills.

Posted: 10:43 am on May 16th

snuffer snuffer writes: If we weren't competing with illegals for our work we would have more skilled labor in the construction and other industries.

I have worked construction for 35 years and have seen wages stagnate and skills drop because the American worker can't survive. Illegal Mexican workers pay no taxes, buy no insurance, and eat beans and rice three meals per day.

We have sent our manufacturing jobs to other countries so lets just give the rest of our blue collar jobs to people who are here illegaly.
Posted: 6:52 am on May 16th

Olitch Olitch writes: One of the more substantive and soulful testimonies Congress will hear this year--or any year. Congratulations to Mike Rowe for telling like it is and for Fine Homebuilding for reporting on it.
Posted: 2:39 pm on May 15th

Gadjet Gadjet writes: Also, Mike Rowe .... if I ever get to meet you in person, I would consider it a very great honor! You ARE a great person, who is a inspiration to me and many, the world is a better place with you on it.
Posted: 3:21 am on May 13th

Gadjet Gadjet writes: Many of those of "higher" education feel they are so important to the world that they deserve "high pay", "great benefits", etc. In other words, the best the world has to offer because they went to University and they work harder than everyone else. I learned a long time ago that we ALL work just as hard as everyone else, and it's the quiet ones who work the hardest, they haven't the time to yap about it.

Answer this who would you rather have in your house a Psychologist to talk about how you feel about your plugged toilet, or someone like a plumber who can actually fix it? At that moment "who" is worth more? Shouldn't we all be paid the same? Why do people bitch about the cost of a plumber at $80.00 per hour and yet turn around and spend $300.00 per hour and think it's worth it for a shrink who really does absolutely nothing but sit and listen?

And we, as a society, wonder why we don't have tradespeople!

...and you had to buy the gas to see the shrink, the plumber came to you, he bought the gas! Honestly now, which is the better deal?
Posted: 3:14 am on May 13th

Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher writes: I thought this was Rowe's most poignant statement:

"In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We’ve elevated the importance of 'higher education' to such a lofty perch, that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled 'alternative'. Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as “vocational consolation prizes,” best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of 'shovel ready' jobs for a society that doesn’t encourage people to pick up a shovel."

As both a field trained worker and a disciple of higher education in a related field, I can speak from much experience towards the effect that societal paradigm has had on the skilled trade industry - in my case this is specific to carpentry.

It has long been my hope that someday we may see a resurgence of labor related education at both the high school and university level. Not that we should advocate a drone labor mentality nor should we urge anyone to pursue a career in an antiquated manner. Rather, we should be raising the standards of practice and providing proper professional level education to back up those standards.

SInce it seems the same disparagers of vocational training are so often the same complainers of the difficulty finding qualified contractors, it should prove a worthy argument that the longer our society snubs the idea of skilled trade work as a professional career, the worse the problem will become.

As a carpenter, I have always been dissatisfied that I only have the limited ability to elevate my career status to 'lead carpenter' but never to a true professional level of 'Master Carpenter'. To that extent, I was unable to pursue carpentry to a higher level at a university and so settled with obtaining my bachelor's degree in the related field of architecture.... which does allow the capability to distinguish one's self as a 'professional' by societal standards as well as the ability to achieve the level of 'Master Architect' by way of a Master of Architecture degree.

So, if FHB and Mike Rowe want my opinion as to fixing the vocational gap it would be to find ways to convince universities to offer curriculum and degrees in skilled trade fields. In doing so, it would be my hope that techniques and technology in fields such as carpentry will move forward at a more rapid pace, consumer confidence will rise, construction standards will be better followed, field professionals will receive fairer wages, and building efficiency will increase. Above all, we would be ensured a better educated workforce.

Posted: 1:18 pm on May 12th

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