Mike Rowe thinks he has the solution to the nation’s trillion-dollar student debt crisis, and it involves some dirty work.
The Dirty Jobs star is advocating for more targeted education that focuses on teaching much needed skills to students. This education can help fill the high-skilled jobs that are often overlooked by graduates.
Rowe said he developed the idea after being asked to deliver a TED Talk. Rowe said the talk involved making “a few impromptu observations on the changing face of the modern day proletariat,” and when he found out that video of it went viral online he was inspired to deliver a more meaningful message.
His idea lead him to a public relations campaign for skilled labor and alternative education called mikeroweWORKS.
“Over the course of Dirty Jobs, I talked with hundreds of employers, employees, and entrepreneurs in every state. Without question, the most common complaint was a shortage of people willing to learn a useful skill and work their butts off. In spite of rising unemployment, this was a real challenge for companies that needed to hire skilled labor. It still is. And so mikeroweWORKS began as an online trade resource center — a place where people could investigate educational opportunities that didn’t require a four-year degree.”
Mike Rowe said the idea quickly grew into a non-profit foundation awarding “work ethic scholarships” and supporting a number of programs and organization that “fill the void left by vanishing high school shop classes.”
His effort comes at a critical time nationwide. Experts say there are a growing number “middle skills” jobs, those that require more education than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree.
Rowe said he hopes the effort can find the right audience.
“With college debt north of a trillion dollars, and a skills gap that continues to widen, I can’t say if our efforts have been futile or prescient,” he wrote. “I only know that technical recruitment continues to be a massive challenge for many companies, and too many parents and guidance counselors continue to push a four-year degree as though it’s the best fit for the most people.”