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ERIC Number: EJ1092487
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Jan
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1067-1803
Somebody's Gotta Do It: Through His Foundation, Television Producer and Host Mike Rowe Is Working to Change the Perception of Middle-Skills Jobs and Fill Them at the Same Time
Rowe, Mike
Community College Journal, v85 n3 p20-25 Dec 2014-Jan 2015
Mike Rowe wants high school students to rethink that $140,000 art history degree. The creator, executive producer, and host of CNN's Somebody's Gotta Do It and former host of TV's Dirty Jobs has long been passionate about promoting vocational, aka middle-skills, professions. Over the past decade, Rowe has given countless public and private speeches about closing the so-called skills gap in the United States. Through the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, the nonprofit organization he launched in 2008, Rowe and a small staff based in Santa Monica, Calif., are connecting students with top-notch educational opportunities in increasingly sophisticated, highly technical middle-skills professions. These are the jobs--electrical engineering technicians, automotive professionals, firefighters, and building inspectors, among them--that keep our country humming, but are too often underappreciated in our culture. These jobs are also among the fastest-growing professions in the country, according to a recent study by CareerBuilder, which lists middle skills professions, including "support activities for mining" and "oil and gas extraction," among the few jobs that grew 8 percent or more between 2010 and 2013. Research from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce found that of the 55 million projected job openings between 2010 and 2020, 12 million will require a certificate or associate degree, close to the 13 million that will require a bachelor's degree. The gap between employers needing highly skilled workers and the dearth of professionals possessing those skills is wide. Oftentimes it exists because schools, programs, and students don't understand employers' specific skills needs--which has prompted more large companies to partner with vocational high schools and community colleges to create apprentice programs. It's an issue the mikeroweWORKS Foundation has taken on with gusto. The organization awards scholarships to promising students interested in skilled trades professions. "There are 4 million [open] jobs right now," says Rowe, "and a very small percentage of them require a four-year degree; most require training. So either we make training cool, or we continue to look at lots and lots of people looking for jobs and lots of available jobs and no logical way to connect the two." Rowe, an Eagle Scout, was born and raised in Baltimore, a city practically defined by a workmanlike pride. He says that the hundreds of highly skilled workers he's apprenticed with--from brick layers to pipe fitters--agree that "as a culture, we've demonized dirt and we've made work into a thing to avoid. I'm not just talking about laziness or a lack of ambition. I'm talking about really targeting work as a bad thing," he says. If Rowe has any say in the matter, Block and the other mikeroweWORKS scholarship recipients will also learn that sweat equity--and taking real pride in hard work--reaps rewards beyond the monetary. But first, a little facelift is in order, Rowe says. "We have to reclaim the trades and reclaim the fun and the nobility and the dignity that used to come along with our traditional notions of work."
American Association of Community Colleges. One Dupont Circle NW Suite 410, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-728-0200; Fax: 202-833-2467; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A