Testing shark repellent, maggot farming, sexing chickens, painting airport runways, cactus moving, cleaning caves. It's all in a day's work for Mike Rowe, the man who graces the cover of the March issue of DC Velocity. Rowe has willingly tried just about every kind of work on the planet as part of his very successful television shows, "Dirty Jobs" and "Somebody's Gotta Do It." And yes, Mike Rowe has also worked in warehouses and driven trucks, so he understands the importance of the supply chain.
We have written many times in DC Velocity of the increasing difficulty of finding skilled people to fill jobs in our industry. Mike Rowe gets it. And that is why he is the subject of our ThoughtLeader interview this month.
Rowe understands that blue-collar jobs are the backbone of our economy, and that without a skilled work force, the supply chain stops. Rowe also realizes that our work force is changing. There will be fewer jobs in the future for unskilled labor, including those in our warehouses. The move to greater automation requires people with a solid technical education at a time when workers with these skills are extremely undervalued.
To drive home this point, Rowe often cites a poster that hung in his high school guidance counselor's office that read: "Work Smart, Not Hard." It showed a happy college graduate on the "Work Smart" side of the poster, and a tired industrial worker on the "Hard" side of the poster. The meaning was obvious. Get a good education and you don't have to work hard for a living. But there is a huge disconnect to reality there, and it belittles skilled trades and technical jobs as being suited only to those who are "not college material."
Rowe has since remade the poster to read: "Work Smart AND Hard." In the accompanying picture, a frowning Rowe is dressed in a cap and gown to represent the many college graduates saddled with huge debt who can't find jobs in their chosen field. Meanwhile, the tired industrial worker has been replaced with a photo of a smiling technician holding a laptop, trained for the jobs of today.
His own foundation, mikeroweWorks, is based on the principle that "Fun and hard work are two sides of the same coin." The foundation strives to promote a skilled work force by providing scholarships for technical and trade schools to those students who demonstrate a strong work ethic and a desire to learn. To find out more about his foundation and see the posters, visit www.profoundlydisconnected.com.
We applaud Mike Rowe's efforts and the spotlight he shines on the need for more skills-based education. It's critical now and will be even more so in the future.