Monday, May 16, 2011

Mike Rowe Speaks To Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee

"The Skills Gap is a reflection of what we value. To close the gap, we need to change the way the country feels about work." - Mike Rowe

Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel series "Dirty Jobs," testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on May 11, 2011. His testimony discusses the disconnect between the American people and how things are made or repaired.

I've listed a few of his points below, but please watch the video or read the full transcript HERE.
"I believe we need a national PR Campaign for Skilled Labor. A big one. Something that addresses the widening Skills Gap head on, and reconnects the country with the most important part of our workforce."

"Right now, American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions. There are 450,000 openings in trades, transportation and utilities. The Skills Gap is real, and it's getting wider. In Alabama, a third of all skilled tradesmen are over 55. They're retiring fast, and no one is there to replace them."

"Alabama's not alone. A few months ago in Atlanta I ran into Tom Vilsack, our Secretary of Agriculture. Tom told me about a governor who was unable to move forward on the construction of a power plant. The reason was telling. It wasn't a lack of funds. It wasn't a lack of support. It was a lack of qualified welders."

"In general, we're surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn't be. We've pretty much guaranteed it."

"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."

"In a hundred different ways, we have slowly marginalized an entire category of critical professions, reshaping our expectations of a "good job" into something that no longer looks like work. A few years from now, an hour with a good plumber - if you can find one - is going to cost more than an hour with a good psychiatrist. At which point we'll all be in need of both."

"I encourage you to support these efforts, because closing The Skills Gap doesn't just benefit future tradesmen and the companies desperate to hire them. It benefits people like me, and anyone else who shares my addiction to paved roads, reliable bridges, heating, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing."
I think Mike is exactly right and we need to do more to change the perception of work in this country!

Other resources:
Discover Your Skills
Go Build Alabama
I Make America
Our previous post about Mike Rowe: Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs, and mikeroweWorks

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