Mike Rowe is no stranger to what a dirty job is, after all he hosted a show all about blue collar workers and just how hard it can be to work with your hands.
He recently made his way to Congress to testify before the House Natural Resources Committee and was asked by one of the members of Congress when they could expect to see and episode of “Dirty Jobs” that covered a representative. Rowe responded that it’s never going to happen.
“With respect, some jobs are just too hideous to contemplate,” he said.
His sentiments are shared by many Americans though, after all the approval rating for Congress at the end of last year was down to the single digits.
Rowe was invited to speak before the committee regarding the skill gap nationwide.
“In all 50 states, everybody I talked to who owned a small business said … ‘the single biggest challenge we’re facing right now is finding people who are willing to retool, retrain, reboot and learn a truly useful skill from the ground up — and work, show up early, stay late and work.’”
“I know that sounds old school… but it really did become a recurring theme,” he added.
Democrats were arguing that the skill gap is due to a mobility problem amongst low income workers who lack the capital to be able to relocate to where the jobs are. Their solution to the problem is to pass comprehensive immigration reform and to provide government subsidies to help families relocate to boom-towns to find jobs.
However Republicans weren’t buying the Democrat plan to fix things.
Rep. Jeff Duncan said “Comprehensive immigration reform, are you kidding me?”
“The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that in 2013 … that one in five American families aren’t working. Let’s focus on putting Americans to work, and let’s get them the training that might be necessary.”
Rowe’s take on the problem isn’t that America has a shortage of skilled labor, but that the attitude of American workers is poor and nobody wants to do the “dirty” work.
He explained that he believes what’s happening is social anthropology and that it’s natural for parents to want to leave their kids with something better. “The question is, what is that? What does that even mean?”
“That maybe is the most subjective question there is but it informs the way we present opportunities to our kids. For all the talk around the issue, the biggest conversation that I’ve seen, the one that really gets resonance, happens around the kitchen table.”
Rowe thinks the best way to change things would be to have a public relations campaign similar to the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign to get parents to rethink the idea of “what is possible” with their children.
He said that “You’ve gotta make skill cool.”
Do you agree with Rowe? Should the image of labor jobs be rethought to make them more appealing to kids?