Is Learning a Trade More Lucrative Than Going to College?

CNN Interview with Mike Rowe

In a CNN interview, Mike Rowe (of “Dirty Jobs” fame) details his campaign to bolster interest in skilled trades that address our industry’s labor shortages.  He highlights the benefits of careers that withstood the economic downturn with high wages yet don’t require the traditional four year degree.

“In the long history of bad advice, you’d have look pretty hard to find something dumber than Work Smart Not Hard. It first appeared years ago as part of a recruitment campaign for college. It was bad advice then, but today, it’s just plain dangerous. Google Work Smart Not Hard and you’ll see just how far this idiotic cliche has wormed it’s way into our collective conscious over the last forty years. It’s repeated daily by millions of people like some timeless chestnut of conventional wisdom. Is it possible we actually believe such nonsense? You bet it is.

Consider the reality of today’s job market. We have a massive skills gap. Even with record unemployment, millions of skilled jobs are unfilled because no one is trained or willing to do them. Meanwhile unemployment among college graduates is at an all-time high, and the majority of those graduates with jobs are not even working in their field of study. Plus, they owe a trillion dollars in student loans. A trillion! And still, we push a four-year college degree as the best way for the most people to find a successful career?

The evidence suggests we’ve taken some very bad advice, and tried to separate hard work from success. Consequently, we’ve become profoundly disconnected from a critical part of our workforce. The skilled part. The part that keeps the lights on. That’s just crazy. In a sane world, there should be posters hanging in high schools that reflect the reality the situation we’re in. Wouldn’t it make more sense to promote Work Smart AND Hard.”

 

About Mike Rowe.  Mike Rowe is a TV host, writer, narrator, producer, actor and spokesman.   As the host of TV’s “Dirty Jobs” he became known as “the dirtiest man on TV.” He traveled to all 50 states and completed 300 different jobs, transforming cable television into a landscape of swamps, sewers, ice roads, coal mines, oil derricks, crab boats, hillbillies, and lumberjack camps.
In 2008, Mike launched mikeroweWORKS, a PR campaign designed to reinvigorate the skilled trades. He’s since written extensively about the country’s relationship with work, the widening skills gap, offshore manufacturing, infrastructure decline, currency devaluation and several other topics. In May 2011, he testified before the U.S. SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE about the importance of changing perceptions and stereotypes around blue-collar work and was asked back to testify to the HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES in 2014. In late 2013, Mike and Caterpillar worked together to launchPROFOUNDLY DISCONNECTED, a new initiative focused on technical recruitment.
Today, Mike runs the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which awards scholarships to students pursuing a career in the skilled trades. He is closely associated with the Future Farmers of America, Skills USA, and the Boy Scouts of America, who honored him as a Distinguished Eagle Scout. Forbes Magazine identified Mike as one of the country’s 10 Most Trustworthy Celebrities in 2010, 2011 and 2012.