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Chairman Rockefeller, Ranking Member Hutchison and members of this committee, my name is Mike Rowe, and I want to thank you all very much for the opportunity to share a few thoughts about our country’s relationship with manufacturing, hard work, and skilled labor.

I’m here today because of my Grandfather.

His name was Carl Knobel, and he made his living in Baltimore as a Master Electrician. He was also a plumber, a mechanic, a mason, and a carpenter. Everyone knew him as a jack-of-all-trades. I knew him as a magician.

For most of his life, my grandfather woke up clean and came home dirty. In between, he accomplished things that were nothing short of miraculous. Some days he might re-shingle a roof. Or rebuild a motor. Or maybe run electricity out to our barn. He helped build the church I went to as a kid, and the farmhouse my brothers and I grew up in. He could fix or build anything, but to my knowledge he never once read the directions. He just knew how stuff worked.

I remember one Saturday morning when I was twelve. I flushed the toilet in the same way I always had. The toilet however, responded in a way that was completely out of character. There was a rumbling sound, followed by a distant gurgle. Then, everything that had gone down reappeared in a rather violent and spectacular fashion.

Naturally, my grandfather was called in to investigate, and within the hour I was invited to join he and my Dad in the front yard with picks and shovels.

By lunch, the lawn was littered with fragments of old pipe and mounds of dirt. There was welding and pipe-fitting, blisters and laughter, and maybe some questionable language. By sunset we were completely filthy. But a new pipe was installed, the dirt was back in the hole, and our toilet was back on its best behavior. It was one of my favorite days ever.

Thirty years later in San Francisco when my toilet blew up again. This time, I didn’t participate in the repair process. I just called my landlord, left a check on the kitchen counter, and went to work.  When I got home, the mess was cleaned up and the problem was solved. As for the actual plumber who did the work, I never even met him.

It occurred to me that I had become disconnected from a lot of things that used to fascinate me. I no longer thought about where my food came from, or how my electricity worked, or who fixed my pipes, or who made my clothes. There was no reason to. I had become less interested in how things got made, and more interested in how things got bought.

At this point my grandfather was well into his eighties, and after a long visit with him one weekend, I decided to do a TV show in his honor. Today, Dirty Jobs is still on the air, and I am here before this committee, hoping to say something useful. So, here it is.

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 came here today because guys like my grandfather are no less important to civilized life than they were 50 years ago. Maybe they’re in short supply because we don’t acknowledge them they way we used to. We leave our check on the kitchen counter, and hope the work gets done. That needs to change.

My written testimony includes the details of several initiatives designed to close The Skills Gap, all of which I’ve had the privilege to participate in. Go Build Alabama, I Make America, and my own modest efforts through Dirty Jobs and mikeroweWORKS. I’m especially proud to announce “Discover Your Skills,” a broad-based initiative from Discovery Communications that I believe can change perceptions in a meaningful way.

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.

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
May 11, 2011

Watch the video of Mike’s testimony here.

Find more links to articles and videos here.

Read Mike’s written Testimony here.
Read Mike’s article “Get Ready to Get Dirty” here.

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    1. Thanks for finally writing about >Mike Rowe

      Audry | 02/04/13 | 6:39 pm
    2. Mike, my husband loves your show, and I watch it with him as well whenever I can. Thanks for your testimony before congress. I think the situation you speak of is also a reflection of a situation in our school system that I noticed when my kids were in school. That is the school is run primarily by educators. They have never known anything but education, thus are woefully removed from the life of the average citizen. Their values, and along with them, our graduation requirements are based on their perspective which is aimed at the college bound student almost exclusively. It is time we started educating our youth in the areas they care about, are passionate about, and want to be productive in, instead of forcing them to take the courses that an “educator” thinks will make them a “well rounded person” Trust me, we’ve already got far too many “well rounded” Americans, another by product I think of our “sit down and learn” philosophy of education.

      Marcia Murray | 02/28/12 | 2:08 pm
    3. The problem with trades like electrician, mason, plumber, roofer is they are very bad paid.
      On the other hand, everyone want to be MBA or Medical doctor but no one want to be Electrical or Mechanical Engineer.

      Miguel A. Dominguez | 02/09/12 | 3:48 pm
    4. Dear Mike,
      I would like to thank you for sharing this problem with the public, but I would like to point out that the US Dept of Labor does offer a program for young adults call Job Corps.
      It teaches young people ages 16-24 skilled labor/trades free.
      My son is there getting is certification in Welding.
      They offer all sorts of programs from Automotive, Heavy Equipment Operator, Auto, Culinary Arts to CNA.

      They kids live on campus in dorms, live, eat and breathe responsibility from the time they get up to the time the lights go out.

      Although this program has gotten a reputation as a last chance for juvenile delinquents it is really more of a place for kids who don’t fit into the current “cookie cutter education program.”

      Perhaps the only short coming of this program is the age restriction. If this program was expanded, or perhaps a similar program started to help displaced/out of work adults we could see some real progress.

      Thank you again for your great testimony,
      Liz Swofford

      Elizabeth Swofford | 11/29/11 | 1:11 pm
    5. I know few people like your grandfather only problem is they are getting older and there is no one to take there place. I’m sorry to say my generation does not care to know how things work. This applies to every thing from relationships to engines. Would our economy be such a wreck if we knew how to save money and live on a reasonable budget.
      Have a wonderful day

      krupke | 10/22/11 | 5:58 pm
    6. Thank you, thank you, for bringing attention to this. People no longer teach their children to care for their cars, cook, build sheds, sew, anything. I have been grateful my whole life, that my parents taught me skills. Skills which have led me into a job that I love. Skills which I use in my every day life, and skills which rarely, rarely, involve the use of a laptop. Thank you.

      Gina | 10/14/11 | 10:18 am
    7. Thats why you need to go to Lincoln Technical Institute.

      Thats http://www.lincolnedu.com They will give you that HVAC skill or whatever skill is laking in this economy and get you a job!

      Michael Evanchik | 10/04/11 | 8:55 am
    8. Great job Mike, while reading your testimony I began thinking about my Grandfather also, who actually was much like yours. I lived with my Grandparents from 1969 until I graduated high school in 1972.
      During my time with them, they taught me more than any college did. I am sure I am the person I am today because of them. I lost them in 1974 and 1975 to cancer.
      I built automatic transmissions at a Ford dealership for 24 years before I began teaching the trade, at a college in Nashville, to our younger generations.
      Keep up the good work. Love the show “Dirty Jobs”, I can relate to many shows.

      Steve Napodano | 10/03/11 | 3:36 pm
    9. Wow, this is in every repsect what I needed to know.

      January | 07/15/11 | 5:48 am
    10. Thanks Mike .. You rock !! I totally agree with you and I grew up much like you except it was my Dad who was/is the know all, do all, teach all guy in my life. He was a do-it-yourselfer through and through. My brothers and I all try to continue to use the skills we learned from our Dad but more and more we see that these skills are fading amongst so many people. It is important to continue teaching and using these skills to keep America strong. Thanks again for doing what you do !! (I love your show too!)

      Tony Hornak | 06/21/11 | 4:57 am
    11. Thank you, Mike, for your comments and concern. When it comes to the issue of a lack of skilled labor, and denigrating the importance of it, I totally agree. As a high school counselor and former middle school and high school teacher (for too many years to mention!), I have seen the gradual push for 4-year college degrees for all students. This has never made sense to me. And, sadly, today’s economic condition has proven my case. There are students graduating from good colleges and universities with great degrees, but they can’t find jobs. There are well educated executives who have been laid off. And, consequently, now we have these kinds of educated folks seeking applied skills training spots in our local community and technical colleges. Another consequence of our economic disaster is that educational budgets in our state have been decimated to the point where there are fewer and fewer of those same training spots available. Such a vicious cycle. Thanks for your efforts.
      Cindy Hoover
      June 15, 2011

      Cindy Hoover | 06/15/11 | 12:58 pm
    12. Hi Mike, I was happily surprised to read your testimony. I agree with you 100%. My family-like yours – was a “do it yourself” family, and we still are. Something about getting stinky dirty and at the end of the day to have something tangible to show for it provides a great deal of purpose and satisfaction. I own a home on the Panhandle of Florida- which has been economically in the shi…. for three years now. We have renovated a house ourselves with the help of local tradesmen. My son who has an MBA flies out to work every week returning on the weekend. He has rebuilt this house every weekend for three years. Much of the work he has done alone or with the help of local carpenters. He and our whole family realize how incredible these tradespeople are. These guys work very hard in very dangerous and HOT conditions. To do their work you have to be: mechanical, fit, strong, knowledgeable, able to calculate measurements, angles and concepts, do precise and accurate work with no mistakes (mistakes = money lost). The majority of white collar workers feel superior to the tradespeople. However I dare them to try to walk one day in the tradesman’s shoes… they wouldn’t know where to begin and they wouldn’t be able to keep working in the heat. I hope your initiative takes off, and I hope our country realizes and appreciates the worth of all the people in the trades and production. We have become a society which has devalued the worth of our productive people. College is not for everyone. It is NOT a failure to choose a trade over a college education. The failure is the concept that the trades/production people are not of equal caliber. I have often told my family and friends about a person I call a hero. One day I was working at a blood donation drive at the chicken plant in Defuniak Springs Fl., a man came in dressed in a white work suit-hooded and gloved. He had feathers and stuff all over him. I asked one of the plant employees what does that man do. She said,” oh, he has a good job. He makes an extra fifty cents an hour. He has to get the chickens out of the crates to hang on the line.” I thought my goodness, he gets beat up by chickens all day long so that he can make an extra 50 cents an hour to help put food on the table for his family. Hi is what this country is about. He is a hero. Our people need to have purpose and take pride in their work. The standard of success should not be how much money and fancy name brand material products one can acquire. The success of a person and our nation lies in the pride of what we produce; be it a product, a road, a building or a family. We need to cherish and strive for the simple basics. Every person needs to have purpose from which to derive pleasure. This needs to be taught to the next generation.. not by words but by action and example. When each individual finds happiness within themselves they will then produce and build strong families, which will in turn serve to build a better place to live for everyone.

      Nancy Hunt | 06/07/11 | 4:26 pm
    13. Good for you, Mike! Until two years ago, I ran a construction and remodeling business, carrying on a family tradition started after World War II. After finishing the last project, I brought home all the equipment and quit forever. I could not find help. I had plenty of applicants who wanted the paycheck, but no one seemed to have a desire to come to work for 40 hours a week. Few applicants had any skills, and sadly, seemed unwilling to learn any on the job. Work ethic seems to have vanished, as well as pride in a job well done. Too many seem content to make less money in a job that demands no responsibility, hopping from temporary job to temporary job. I don’t know where people are going to find workers to fix their problems in the future. People call me all the time wanting help, and I have to tell them that I really do not know of anyone to recommend anymore. The craftsmen have all retired now, and I have joined that group.

      Steve | 06/07/11 | 4:09 pm
    14. I am an owner of a construction company in New York and what you say is true. The more my skills are shown, the more people are amazed at how much I know. I received this knowledge from my family and from work experience and hope to pass it on the my son. People need to do the same and teach there children about a good days work and give them the knowledge to do the same.

      Tom Decker | 06/06/11 | 8:28 am
    15. Mike Ol’ Buddy,
      You’ve boiled down 1/3 to 1/2 the problem with our great nation in just a few paragraphs. I’ve enjoyed dirty jobs programing from the Get-Go and My Wife Brenda loves your show. It brings me no small amount of mirth to hear her say, “Go shower sweaty husband so we can watch The Dirty Man together!”

      I didn’t think it possible, but after reading your statement to the committee I LIKE YOU EVEN MORE!

      Warmest Regards,

      W.D. Willis | 06/04/11 | 5:06 pm
    16. Mike,
      I read your testimony and it is exactly what people need to hear!
      We are an Electrical Contactor and have been looking for skilled tradesmen now for quite a while. We placed ads in the paper and online and did not receive one response. Our workforce is over 50 with just a few younger people in our crew. We would love to do more business but can’t without the resouce of “people”.
      Your final statement ” To close the gap, we need to change the way the country feels about work.” is most revealing about our country and should make everyone take a step back and rethink where we are going!

      Andrea | 06/03/11 | 8:58 am
    17. Hi Mike,
      I’m an elementary education teacher who has been worried about this very thing for years. We are soooo on the “go to college” kick that we have all but forgotten that there are many many jobs out there that are skilled labor jobs that require a different type of “education”. Trade schools are unheard of any more and, as you said apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities are passed up on because they are no longer looked on as favorably as they used to be. I remind my students all the time that if they want to learn to fix cars or build houses, work as an electrician; go for it! Unfortunately, many of these jobs, when you look for a job also require a college degree any more. My question is why? Why can’t we go back to education as it used to be? Skilled labor is needed, necessary and honorable. Thank you so much for getting that word out. I just hope they actually listened.
      Lisa Johnson

      Lisa Johnson | 06/01/11 | 8:50 pm
    18. I am a teacher of seniors in high school. I encourage my students to pursue any job that they find facinating! Together, we explore the 16 career clusters so the students will be aware of the jobs available, then we narrow their choices by taking interest invertories and aptitude screenings! I’m proud of the efforts of Mike Rowe. His promotion of skilled trades will make students proud of their career decisions! Thank you for this effort!

      Kathryn Truster | 05/30/11 | 6:39 am
    19. Hi, Mike,

      Have you ever thought about going to the next step and founding your own vocational university? We’re instructional designers with national and international awards for online training inside corporations. We’ve always wanted to bring our talents out into the real world and tackle something big. We have the talent. We envision a curriculum combination of online training and hands on segments. While you’re pondering the thought, think about landing at The Mike Rowe Vocational University… Just saying. Ponder that and contact us if the idea grows on you. ~ Tasha

      Tasha | 05/28/11 | 10:17 pm
    20. Mike that was well said and I hope it will fall on open ears. My brother still teaches auto shop at one school that still offers it in California. Kids that are failing usually are referred, but many kids see it as a great class and my brother lets them learn in a hands on no nonsense manner.

      How about taking the crab guys off TV and show the vocational teachers that are struggling on no budgets to show America’s youth to work with their hands, use their backs, and still use their minds.

      These kids in my brother’s class will never have to call a mechanic if the can help it.

      Cindy Lockie | 05/27/11 | 9:09 pm
    21. The History International Channel (HISTI) has been occasionally airing a one hour documentary called “The Crumbling of America.” It should be aired on mainstream television. A secure nation is built on solid infrastructure.

      lilbritches | 05/27/11 | 6:22 pm
    22. Mike – so proud of you for making the effort to inform the committee of the needs for this country. I do hope it will help to put people back to work. Because we all need it. Good Job & Thanks for being a great spokes person for us.

      Laura Mainwaring | 05/24/11 | 10:21 pm
    23. I agree. We aren’t replacing people with these skills fast enough. My father was a handy man. I was a tomboy and learned some things that help me take care of my little house.

      The only thing I don’t agree with is a “government initiative.” No matter what the government gets its hands on they take too long, waste too much money, there are no meaurable results and too many palms get greased.

      And since they are pushing unions these days the program and money will probadly be funneled through them. Union serve good purposes in many fields, but government and unions tied together are bad news to me. Just my thoughts. Thanks for the sounding board.

      Stephanie | 05/22/11 | 4:29 pm
    24. Mike you hit the nail on the head. My husband and I own a small engine repair bussiness. I remember when we were married back in 1986 my husband was worried about his job because of all the computers that were taking over jobs. I told him at that time, a computer will never be able to fix a lawnmower, weedeater, generator, or any other small engine. Thirty two years later we are going strong, and our customers come from near and far to have their equipment fixed. We have raised two children. Our son was not collage material, but he did go to school for welding and is sought after from near and far. He also makes a good living for himself. I am proud of what we have done over the years. It may not be a glamours job, and yes it is dirty. But boy what a great living it had given us. Thanks for speaking up for us who work hard for a living.

      Jan Konop | 05/20/11 | 7:50 pm
    25. Again, thank you. I work in the inner-city and many young (especially Black) kids want to be the next millionaire rapper or sports superstar. But still, I know a young man who got a certificate as an air-conditioning technician a couple of years ago. He promptly got a job with the school district and now drives a brand-new pick-up truck and has started a nonprofit organization for inner-city children that he has financed out of his earnings. He still dreams of a university degree, but now he has a foundation to build on, and he is still in his 20′s. The timing is right for what you are advoacting.

      Lester Leavitt | 05/20/11 | 5:04 pm
    26. Mike that was outstanding!!! I learned from my dad that if your hands and your head work then you find the tools to do what needs to and get it done. The only check that would be written was for materials. North Carolina use to be the hub of the United States for furniture, no longer as so much has went overseas. I myself own and run a custom cabinet shop and hope that ther will be a couple of young men that will want to learn this dying art over the next few years. Too bad that most of them would rather run a keyboard than a pencil.
      If we could get back to using our own natural resources to manufacture goods instead of shipping them to everywhere else, the United States of America might still be a global manufacturing force in the future. Sadly though I don’t see it happening.

      Andrew M Roy Sr. | 05/20/11 | 4:05 pm
    27. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! This needs to be shared by all who care about the direction we, as a country, are taking. The media is all over the issue of bullying in schools. Well, our societal habit of dissing those who prefer a “dirty job” over a nice, clean “white color” position is the adult equivalent of schoolyard bullying, with an enormous impact on the well-being of our country on so many levels. Mike has not only eloquently identified the problem, he and others are working hard at devising solutions. Let’s rally for the cause!

      USA RoadTripper | 05/20/11 | 3:41 pm
    28. I completely agree! Not only are we not going to have skilled workers to take the place of those retiring but there is a whole generation of children whose talents lie outside of the professions that require a higher education. Without vocational education opportunities, I feel they are going to be lost or forced into a profession that does not utilize their best skill set. My brother was phenomenal at rebuilding bicycles, engines, electrical appliances without ever having taken a class or read a manual, and, in school, he was able to expand his skill set in the vocational classes he took such as woodworking. This type of natural skill is a GIFT. However, without vocational education and teachers, to enhance his natural abilities, it could have all been wasted. I see my own son with the same natural abilities and I know he is growing up in society that does not only not value this type of gift but seems to be eliminating the avenues to take that gift and make it something extraordinary. There will always be a need for these artisans and I feel like it’s time to give those with an aptitude for this type of work an opporutnity to shine as we do for those who are on their way to college.

      Val Acosta | 05/20/11 | 2:48 pm
    29. Thanks a lot Mike! I’ve been referred to as an oddity by a lot of “professional” people who have one blue suit skill. Over the decades I’ve been a writer, a plumber, an artist, a car mechanic, an animator, a woodworker, etc. The thing is, people used to consider this normal. You were expected to know how to do things and fix things around the house, to be self reliant, to do what you could before you called in a pro. That’s what my dad has always done. He’s been a professional pianist, a storyteller, a writer, a car guy, a pilot and a lot of other things. He gained his skill as a musician from 50 years of banging away on a piano, not through some quick shortcut advertised on the internet.
      Now it seems to be unusual that you work in white collar jobs but can do blue collar things. We’re all getting so specialized that if there’s the slightest change in our job situation we’re helpless. That’s a terrifying prospect. What happened to the handy, versatile, hard working America I remember? Is it just not “all cool and stuff” to be like that anymore?

      Darrell | 05/20/11 | 12:26 pm
    30. Mike, it is like you wrote this article about my father, who could fix my car, build a deck, cook gourmet meals,do electrical work, and fix the plumbing.Oh by the way he was also a buisness man who managed a car dealership.

      Dennis Melia | 05/19/11 | 3:36 pm
    31. Thank you, Mike! Wholeheartedly agree! A few years ago, when I was helping a friend look for a vocational teaching position, I was shocked by the lack of positions. Used to be that many “shop” teachers coached sports teams on the side. Now, for every few dozen athletic stipends out there, there is maybe one that is attached to a teaching position, and it is usually not vocational. Don’t get me wrong, sports are good for fitness and leadership training, but aren’t teaching trades and life skills just a bit more important?

      Janis Hatlestad | 05/19/11 | 2:43 pm
    32. I have a degree in biology from a great school, but have relied on a lawn care and home care business for over 40 years as my main income. I started as a kid and am now 59. I have learned many skills through the years, carpentry, minor plumbing and electrical, roofing, painting, masonry, concrete, landscaping and mowing. I taught physics at a local vocational school for over 15 years and tried hard to give the students a good background in fundamental understanding how things work, but was frustrated by a system that puts grades before knowledge, and makes capturing funds paramount. Our values will have to change or we will have to learn to fix everything we own, because skilled laborers won’t be there.

      Rick Hulme | 05/18/11 | 8:48 pm
    33. Well said and about time it WAS said.

      Shanon | 05/18/11 | 3:19 pm
    34. Bravo.

      Mark Abney | 05/18/11 | 1:36 pm
    35. Can you say; “…liberal education system..?”

      Murph | 05/18/11 | 7:12 am
    36. Mike, thank you for your testimony to the Senate.

      The only positive aspect of my high school tenure was the vast array of vocational studies offered, including; auto, wood & metal shop, cosmetology, television production and electrical engineering. As someone who struggled with the academic aspect of school, I found refuge in telecommunications offered through my high school. The program provided me with a new found purpose. Finally, I found the respect, encouragement and success that I craved for so long.

      Unfortunately, the year after I graduated (1999), I found the district closed not one but all of those vocational studies. This is just one example of a public school district depriving tens of thousands of adolescents the opportunity to explore careers other than the college path.

      I sincerely hope your efforts will help spark a initiative in our public schools. Again, thank you.

      Tim | 05/18/11 | 6:53 am
    37. I couldn’t agree more. Not every kid is cut out for a life of formal education and college, and yet this country doesn’t respect nor encourage skilled workers. My husband was one of those “magicians” that Mike Rowe spoke about. Once, my electric car window refused to function, and my husband took of the door panel, retrieved 100 or more broken pieces and held them in his hand for about 5 minutes looking at them. He then went to the basement, came back with a piece of teflon, and carved out the piece, slapped it in place and put the door panel back on. That gear worked perfectly. And it was designed to last forever. He could build furniture, design and build a kitchen, do electrical work, and many other things. He thought I was smart. He was a genius. I could never convince him of the value of his crafts.

      We need more technical high schools and we need to start respecting trades in this country!

      Janis | 05/17/11 | 4:36 pm
    38. We need more metal working class, CAD, auto shop, wood shop and encourage vocational technology schools more. We have enough lawyers and telemarketers. Thank you Mike Rowe for your testimony, you hit the nail on the head.

      Gregory T Allen (1SG ret.) | 05/17/11 | 3:49 pm
    39. Mike Rowe that is probably the most truthful thing i have ever read and could not agree with you more, we will see what happens when all these people that run out and get these jobs where there is no labor involved and all the real laborers are and see what happens when they dont know anything about anything but how a chair rolls in an office.

      Ryan | 05/17/11 | 3:44 pm
    40. Buffalo NY summer 1991, sitting amoungst candidates that had applied for and been accepted to be examined for licensure as architects in the state of NY. NY was of only a few states that allowed experience to offset formal education in the qualifications process for this exam. And only a few persons amoungst me had accomplished this accredidation through work experience, primarily. I was one.

      A wonderful experience – passing that ardous and lengthy (4 day) exam and becoming an equal with peers that to this day share in a great profession. Yet, the same age-old gauge renders constant – I am no less than, nor more than, that that I work at and accomplish.

      Over the years I have witnessed the buffing of experiential-education to almost extinction. Wherein the trades and professions have relaxed, so much as to rely upon their so-called Professional Associations to speak for and through them, they soon lose their individuality and ultimately their connection to the element element that birthed their working being. Hard work and respect.

      Kenneth E. Martin, AIA CSI | 05/17/11 | 1:07 pm
    41. Mike, You are my dream man. Hard working, straight talking, world aware and Oh-so easy on the eyes. Nice job with this speech…..x

      Alyssa | 05/17/11 | 7:08 am
    42. I salute you Mike for speaking up and (again) educating our politicians on the need for skilled workers. My father was just like your grandfather. I wish I could have half his talent. He can do virtually every job he cares to undertake. I think our society as a whole encourages our youth to tackle white collar jobs while the blue collar jobs do seem to be for “those not worthy of college”. I attended vocational school in high school and think it is a shame that many of our children do not have access to these programs. Hopefully giving your voice to these shortcomings will motivated our leaders to attack this problem before it is to late!
      Thanks again!

      Jan Scheunemann | 05/17/11 | 6:42 am
    43. Mike Thank you for putting it out there and letting the goverment know how you feel and so do most americans in the working sector who do go to work clean and come home dirty. Also thanks for your continued support of scouting i have two boys as cubs and another who’s current dream is to earn his eagle through hard work and dedication. I enjoy your show and like learning about your relationship with Caterpillar whom I also work for. Great job again!

      Jeff | 05/17/11 | 4:37 am
    44. Thank you Mike for sharing this with us all. You reminded me of my dear father,who could fix anything. Later when I moved to my condo,when I encountered one of your related problems,by first reaction was to ask my neigbour for help only to my great surprise to discover that none of five asked that could help me with anything.I asked everyone that day,What’s wrong with you people, my father can fix everything. That’s how I discovered,how great was my father who by profession was a tractor driver and who built 6 homes for my sisters and brothers,that was in Moldova.
      Now,I just got from a remote area where I teach Math 100 by the Mathematics for the trades which the students fell in love with.All our problems in this book are real applied problems for Plumbers;Electricians;Welders;WasteWater Technology;,…But to our deepest regret,our BTC closes its doors for the very ones who need these jobs.As with Math 100 you get right into those trades.Very sad for Americans,isnt’t it. Thanks again for doing this. Your article made my day and came at a time when I lost my job.Who knows,it may turn around and I will be able to continue teaching this great Math for the Trades.

      Lyubasha | 05/16/11 | 11:34 pm
    45. WOW – you are an Eagle scout on top of all your other accomplishments! It is good to see you continue to be an active supporter of the scout program. You really are something else. You are one of the very few celebrities I’d like to meet. Keep up the good work, Mike.

      Micky | 05/16/11 | 8:08 pm
    46. Mike didn’t say where or how his Grandfather came by his skills but my guess is he either learned them or enhanced them in the military, probably during WW2, since Grandpa would have been about the right age. What a wonderful legacy they’ve left us. Thanks, Mike, for relating your legacy to the Senate and here to your fans.

      It would be too good to be true to find out Grandpa was a Seabee. I don’t suppose anyone who knows the answer would even be reading my comment, would they?

      Bill the Seabee | 05/16/11 | 6:25 pm
    47. Our so called leaders need to step into the real world and read this for a start.I work in an industry that gets paid by insurance companies because the law provides that insurance companies can price set and monopolize They set our prices so low we can’t afford to pay a tech. There for young people don’t want to get into the industry.It’s all about how much money the corporations can make so their executives and stockholders can make a killing. Unfortunately the only way something might get done with this, is if there is a way for our politicians to line their pockets, or if some how we can educate our workers and send them to India (or where ever) to work for our “American companies” for five bucks a day. The corporations and politicians own us now,I don’t see anything changing soon.

      Matt | 05/16/11 | 4:28 pm
    48. Way to go Mike…I for one believe that you are on to something here, now what do we have to do to get the politicians to listen?????? And make sure the American people support your cause?

      Cate Perkins | 05/16/11 | 4:15 pm
    49. You can’t build a dam without some dam builders!

      Bill | 05/16/11 | 3:24 pm
    50. I am an advocate for career and technical education; formerly on staff with my state’s department of education. It is so wonderful for you to add your voice to those supporting vocational training. You are so well-known because of your wonderful television show. I hope that translates into action for secondary and post-secondary vocational technical training.

      Additionally, I’m so lucky to be married to a wonderful man who is a professional pilot and can do anything – repair an engine,rewire the house, fix the plumbing, landscape a yard; all of which he learned from his father or vocational ed programs in school. If I weren’t happily married to an amazingly talented “jack of all trades,” I’d pursue you big time. (Are you married, by the way? If not, I know some great ladies who would appreciate an introduction.) (Smiling.)

      Micky | 05/16/11 | 2:44 pm
    51. Thank You Mike!! My grandfather was and still is that way along with my husband. But they have taken so many thing away that could really help these young people. They have taken Woodshop, Home Economics, (I took both, and loved them) metal shop. But now they have really nothing to teach them skilled labor, and there is NOTHING WRONG with it. It is honest hard work and you fill a very important need in this world. Not everyone can do the same job it takes all differant jobs to make this world go round and a better place. If people would realize the need for this, we would have alot less out of work people in this world! And I love Dirty Jobs! Thank You for keeping it real Mike!!

      Shawn Eastburn | 05/16/11 | 1:43 pm
    52. I was fortunate to have had a successful 34 year career in commercial construction. I attribute this to the hard nosed but dedicated support of the men that introduced me to the trades. A time when political correctness and nepotism took a backseat to loyalty and hard work. My son has chosen to follow in my footsteps and for that I am extreemly proud, yet deeply concerned. I was “broke in” at a time when a foreman’s intent was to train and care for me on my way up…so I’ll be better able to take care of him on his way down. It was respectfully understood life in the trades will get tougher as a man gets older. This also promoted a comrodary that bred respect and made 40 year careers more tolerable in a physically demanding environment. I’ve seen that mindset and the men that endorsed it replaced with booklearned white collar management tactics and greed. This observation was recently made personal through my untimely “dismissal” just 5 short years from a full pension. The only justifiable reason…my “typing skills were not up to snuff”. It frightens me to see my son going through this same scenario at an accelerated pace. When dedicated, Blue Collar American workers are struggling and missing hours while I.N.S has effectively caused the panicked evacuation of construction sites (some Union)…You have to ask how booksmarts, nepotism and greed has become the supervising authority over blue collar workers in our country. If nature chose this course…there would be no survival of the fittest. We need to promote from within based on “field training and experience”, then excercise a trust and values that get us back on track for the future generations of blue collar workers in America. Remember when WE were the middle class?

      R.T. Swire | 05/16/11 | 12:26 pm
    53. Mike Rowe I salute you and applaud your spunk and determination to give a voice to the masses. I am one of the many who at this time is unemployed. I am not happy about my unemployment and have applied for many jobs, only to get doors slammed in my face time and time again. I apply for fast food, dish washer, secretary, receptionist, factory, telemarketing, cook, call center, sales, well, you get the picture. If there’s a job opening, I apply for it. Yes, our society has made education important, rightfully so, although not to the point it has gotten. I don’t have a degree, no one in my family does. I hear the same from every job opportunity however, either A. You need a degree for this position or B. I’m sorry you don’t have welding, etc experience so you aren’t a candidate. The age old question remains, how am I to get experience if no one will give me the opportunity? Why is it a requirement to have a college degree to be a receptionist or an operator? These employers don’t seem to care what kind of degree it is, as long as you have one. What am I to think other than they are simply segregating those of us who aren’t fortunate to have a degree? They have to train the college graduates so why not train others? Is that piece of paper really so sacred? Because I assure you, I am not alone. I want to work, I need to work, I have the desire and passion to do the best job I can do every single day. I continue to wait for an opportunity to prove myself..any opportunity. Thank you Mike, for having the heart to speak out. I hope it works.

      Tracy | 05/16/11 | 11:30 am
    54. Mike, wonderful job in your presentation to the Senate’s Commerce Committee. Lots of us have waited for someone to stand up and speak up for our blue-collar workers. Your comments are right on target. I feel that all kids need to come out of high school with the ability to do something with their hands (other than hold them out!), even have the ability to change a tire! When I was growing up, we had our parents and grandparents to teach us how to repair, make do and make ends meet. Not so today unless you get out in the very rural parts of the country and even then there are many fewer kids who know the proper way to make repairs. We’re really going to need these kids and the services they can supply sooner rather than later. Also, having a skill gives young adults a better opportunity to work for a better wage so they can afford college. The grants and scholarships along with the help from mom and dad just may not be available like it once was. All of this is called preparation for the real world! Thanks again, Mike, for recognizing the backbone of America!

      KH Moll | 05/16/11 | 10:46 am
    55. Great testimony! I’d just add that a “skills gap” also exists because many skilled laborers of color are kept out of the apprenticeships and unions that funnel into these jobs by racism (institutional or otherwise). There’s a bunch of stats and reports out there on this problem but I’ve personally known a few guys (plumbers, carpenters, etc.) who had the skills and were desperate to get work but they couldn’t because they either didn’t have apprenticeship experience or weren’t in a union – they had been kept out. Then there’s the issue of minority contractors who can’t get business for similar reasons. This was a excellent piece, just keep those of us who are often forgotten in mind too!

      CK | 05/16/11 | 10:32 am
    56. My grandfather was also the jack-of-all-trades. He was a self taught electrician and worked for the S.F. Examiner. He also helped build the Bay Bridge. He built the house my grandmother lived in till she died on March 3, 2011 at 105. This house was built so well it stood 71 years with only a few repairs needed here and there. He taught me to take pride in what I did, something I see rarely in present day society. I took shop class when I was in middle school and did really well, I was one of the few girls in the class at the time, but I remember how some people shined, kids that didn’t do well at school work, but could fix a car, or build a beautiful cabinet. It gave them an opportunity to shine at something they were good at and as you said trades we could use now. I like to get my hands dirty and love to build things. I did grow up in a city, but I learned how important the trades are at a young age. Thank you for standing up for those who are trade workers and pointing out how important they are for our infrastructure to survive.

      Lenore Coe | 05/16/11 | 10:30 am
    57. Mike, we have loved your show since it started!!! My husband is an electrician, with a minor in jack-of-all-trades. He works in an environment where he can’t even get the budget to fix the things that need fixing – because the boss thinks everything can be fixed with duct tape, and WD-40. My husband can work miracles with these two items, but it is just not realistic to think this is always the case. I firmly support your efforts and the efforts of all the good men and women out there who work hard, don’t mind getting dirty so others can stay clean, and come home inspired to do it all again the next day! You represent the strength and determination this country was built upon.

      And honey, if you see this, I am so proud of you!

      Vickie | 05/16/11 | 10:08 am
    58. Mike,

      With regards to the vocational training, or lack thereof, in the public schools today, you are so spot on! When I was in junior high, all the 7th and 8th graders were required to rotate (on a quarterly basis) through a series of classes. These were sewing, home economics (included cooking), wood shop, metal shop (boys only, however), and art. So the boys learned how to sew and the girls learned how to use table saws, band saws and sanders. We all learned how to cook. At the high school, there was an auto shop. Not any more. Something about liability (this was also the reason the high board was removed from the swimming pool). Society has become so gun shy about litigation, real or imagined, and (as you noted) obsessed about mathematics and science grades on the state-mandated minimum competency tests, that basic life/vocational skills have been removed from the school curriculum. Lack of budgetary funding is also to blame. Not only are the skills not being taught, but the problem-solving methodology is lost. My 20-year old son came to me not long ago when a bracket supporting the handle on our lawn mower had been dislodged and had gotten bent underneath the rear wheel. He had no clue how to fix it. I ended up determining the problem, removing the bracket, pounding it back flat and reattaching it. What’s wrong with this picture? Rather than figuring it out for himself, he comes to get his 50+ year-old mother to deal with the lawn mower. My 17-year old son did the same when he clogged the kitchen sink/disposal with rice. I was the one who took the trap apart, got the plumbing snake and cleared the pipe. (A very dirty job, indeed). Call it common sense, horse sense, whatever–it is being lost and this is scary. I applaud your insight and efforts to reinstill an appreciation for the men and women who use their hands and problem-solving abilities in America today.

      Leslie B. | 05/16/11 | 10:05 am
    59. Thank you Mike for being a voice for so many hard working people around the world. I want to thank you especially for giving my husband the inspiration he needed to keep believing in himself.

      Carol | 05/16/11 | 9:50 am
    60. Thank you. Wholeheartedly agree. My dad is one of those “miracle workers” too. He can build or fix anything. At 86 years old however, he is no longer able to do it all, but he has taught me many things he knows and I am able to fix what I can. I appreciate his knowledge more than he knows.

      Ilona Zandarski | 05/16/11 | 9:21 am
    61. You’re very much appreciated Mike! As a female mill worker/carpenter working in Calgary, Canada I find it’s either rags or riches with the construction here. But, I chose the trades and I love the work I do. Everyday I ride home on the train exhausted, filthy, wearing my steel toes, carrying my hardhat and people look at me with a bit of awe cause I’m a female, but I hold my head high and I’m smiling, not cause of the paycheck, but because I can look at the suits and I say “HEY buddy…you see that skyscraper there? I helped build that today”.

      Shannon | 05/16/11 | 7:48 am
    62. We all love to watch mike and yea to mike! I agree with him. As we all know let the Americans do the work not over seas give us back jobs!

      lavone mobeck | 05/16/11 | 7:33 am
    63. Mike,

      You’ve hit the nail on the head with that speech (only if you know how to use a hammer that is).

      My husband and I are great fans of Dirty Jobs and love how you show people’s passion for the way they make a living, no matter how ‘dirty’ it may be.

      You shouldn’t have to have a College qualification to be considered successful. The whole concept of working your way up is completely redundant. Most people can’t/don’t stay with the same employer long enough to do that unfortunately. With constant downsizing, restructuring etc. everyone’s expected to hit the ground running and already know everything. There is no patience to train OJT. Time is money. Sad.

      Keep fighting the good fight.

      Lynda (Australia) | 05/16/11 | 7:09 am
    64. Thank you Mike for expressing the sentiments of so many who can see what is actually happening, especially with regards to jobs requiring physical labour of some sort.
      My husband’s family is as much as you describe about your own, the men having a real”do it yourself” or “can do” attitude when something had to be done.My father-in-law never let anything stand in his way of fixing just about anything, and my brother-in-law is trade licensed in three specialties.My husband, a professional firefighter, has always been a “hands on” guy, and to this day will tackle problems that others would not get their hands dirty on.Yet these men are also very intelligent discussing politics, playing bridge, volunteering in the community.We have to change this elitist mindset which determined that “higher”education is the only way to go.We are graduating large numbers of overeducated people from universities who are competing for fewer jobs, and have few if any “real life”skills.Many cannot cook, hammer a nail or sew a button on a shirt and believe that these tasks are “beneath” them.Attitudes need to change if any real progress is to be made.
      And by the way this problem does not just exist in the United States, as I am writing from Canada.
      Good luck Mike, I hope your PR campaign suggestion is successful!

      Elizabeth Martin | 05/16/11 | 7:06 am
    65. Thank you for standing up for all the unsung heroes of day to day life.

      Leigh | 05/16/11 | 6:38 am
    66. Mile Rowe, You are a HERO. Thank you very much. Open some eyes.

      auntlyn | 05/16/11 | 4:47 am
    67. Hey Mike,
      Right on! there needs to be a wake up call for most Americans. Blue collar is not supposed to be thought of as substandard. I am a shop teacher on Long Island, trades today are one of the only real job markets left. People are just convinced that colleges and universities are the only path to a career, but the real question is, a career for what? Mike, thanks again for all the great dirty jobs on your show and paying tribute to the hard working people in America.
      Thanks again,

      Jesse Eilbeck | 05/16/11 | 4:21 am
    68. Thank you Mike for speaking for a lot of us. My Dad worked long hours, but he was a mechanic, owned his own Excavating Co with his brother. They did all the work themselves, drove the dumptrucks,D-cats,grader, lo-boy,crane and also kept them running. He also fought fires on the hills behind our homes, even being over run by fire. He lost his cat,but survived. He kept all our cars running, our friends cars running plus all their own equipment running. After college, I worked hard at my job, but also raised horses. That was fulltime in the daytime & my regular job swing shift. I talk to students doing clinicals at our hospital and they are already tired after an 8 hr shift. I have to chuckle at them as when I started, there was a lot of call also. So, between working horses,cleaning barns, training horses, feeding and swing shift w/call, that was a long hard day. I loved it!

      Chris Westgaard | 05/16/11 | 4:07 am
    69. Did your Dad ever go bowling with my Dad? You and I are both fortunate to know our Dads and see with our own eyes what it really means to help maintain this nation and keep it strong.

      Harry Paige | 05/16/11 | 1:39 am
    70. Good on ya !

      Ken Cook | 05/16/11 | 12:39 am
    71. Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs has been one of my favorite shows to watch.
      You bring so much to the American Public. Just keep it coming. Thanks for all you do. Iris

      . IRIS HASKEW | 05/16/11 | 12:24 am
    72. Mike that was the greatest thing I have ever heard and to true. I am proud to say I am a Master Electrician and have worked all my life. I went through the old school apprenticeship program where they put you with one journeyman and you stayed with that one through your whole apprenticeship and as such I had the blessing of drawing the oldest and meanest man ever for 5 years he worked me in the ground every day and the things that he taught me I still hold onto this day. These things are that to be first of all PROUD of your work and the things that you do. To do this best job possible to the point of perfection. Now owning my own business now I have noticed a drastic decline in the craftsmanship and the pride in our younger men and women of this generation. I agree with you everyone degrades the tech schools of the past and have deleted most of them out of our schools and are teaching the kids now days to start at the top and work their way sideways not the hard work can get you to the same place financially as going through college with a lot more satisfaction. We need to stand up in America and start rebuilding our infrastructure and manufacturing again before we are no longer able to do so. Why you ask because there will be none left to teach the younger generation. Stand up America and start demanding these programs be restarted before we fall into the dark ages.

      Landon Moore | 05/16/11 | 12:09 am
    73. Mike, I believe in your message whole heartedly and would like to continue on this journey using “Discover your skills” myself. Someday’s I think voices such as yours need to be heard a lot more. Just want you to know that I stand behind your campaign one hundred percent and will be here anytime at all. Keep up the good works and I will too. Thank you, your friend Shannon Marie.

      Shannon Marie | 05/15/11 | 11:35 pm
    74. Wow! So very well said.

      Tiffinie Helmer | 05/15/11 | 10:40 pm
    75. Mike
      I appreciate your efforts in bringing back the old skills and trying toget the younger generations involved. I too have a Father who is also a “Jack of all trades” and I agree they’re a dying breed. Luckly for me I have picked up where he has left off and no longer can do any more. My passion is Mig Welding, I even have an Associated degree emphasis in welding technology, however I live in a area where the capable welding jobs are obsolete. If there any to have my chances is 100/1 in getting a welding position. Therefore, I am an online student working toward my BSBA who’s financial aid has ran out, I am guessing caused by the Gov. cutbacks, so instead of reaching my full potential, this is my last class available to me. I agree, with your statements and I like to be part of this movement in getting back to the roots and closing the gap. I know from one tradesman to another, nothing will get done unless you get dirty, I feel it’s time the skillfull men and women should get dirty and stand behind you and help close the gaps. Before I end this message I like to thank you Mike Rowe for speaking out and making yourself heard. I doubt I will get a reply back personally from you, but its ok I wanted to give my five cents worth in as well, good luck and God bless.
      Sincerely Monty.

      Monty | 05/15/11 | 9:21 pm
    76. God bless Mike Rowe and his dedication to the working man.Its unfortunate that tradesmen and Craftsmen are being marginalized by lowered wages and low cost importing.It seems you have two choices now,100k college education or flipping burgers. I was an upholsterer for 18 years. My job was eliminated by overseas imports. I am working to try and learn another trade but its an uphill climb. I hope more people with Mr.Rowe’s fame will turn things around for the good of the country.

      Jody Crews | 05/15/11 | 9:18 pm
    77. Hey Mike..

      Thank you for being the nice guy I have always thought you are. My Father too was a man who provided for his family with sweat and hard work. These skills are being lost and you’re right you never know when you may need a GOOD Plumber !!

      Thanks again for being the voice of values and respect to those who we need and should appreciate….. who they are and how they contribute to our world. By the way we love Dirty Jobs…….and is there anything you don’t narrate?
      If I were as good as you are at it…..hey why not? : – )

      Tina | 05/15/11 | 9:17 pm
    78. Dear Mike,
      My dad was born in 1930. He quit school in the 6th grade to help make money for the family. He held many jobs over the years. He done building constrution, road constrution, photography, and factory work. He was never certified in anything but there was nothing he couldn’t do. There aren’t many men left who can just work on things without a four year college degree. I agree that there should be shop classes, autobody, cooking and sewing brought back into schools. Just recently I was looking for a job in a factory. They required a four year degree for something I had done for 20 years. Because I didn’t have a degree I wasn’t qualified. A four year degree isn’t as good as 20 years experience.

      Dee | 05/15/11 | 9:16 pm
    79. Mike,
      I am glad to see that not everyone has lost their connection with the past. I too grew up with a grandfather and father that could fix or build just about anything. They both had a “working man’s PhD”. My father was a plumber and a surveyor most of my life. My grandfather was a car salesman during the week, mister fix-it, ranch hand, auto mechanic, hunting buddy, fisherman, and story teller the rest of the time. I’m 31 years old and am honored to say I have worked for everything I have. My “American Dream” includes EARNING my paycheck, loving my family, and doing my part in keeping this country alive.

      My family loves Dirty Jobs, our 3 yr. old sees you on any commercial and says “that’s Mike, is Dirty Jobs on?” Keep up the good work and support of the working man!

      Scott Bonner | 05/15/11 | 9:07 pm
    80. Thank you so much for this. I’m sure your father and grandfather are very proud of you and the admirable work that you do. Thank you too for the wonderful work that you do on your show. We love you!!

      Sharon | 05/15/11 | 8:31 pm
    81. I would have to agree mike
      where I live there is no schools to teach the kids Skilled Labor jobs it only teaches them on how to get in to collage.
      If you won’t to learn the skills you have to travel 3hr to go to a 2hr class. So if you want to learn something you have to learn by yourself like I did now at 27 I am a jack-of-all-trades. I can build a house, grow plants, install the water system, install the heating system (for the winter plants), be a commercial fisherman work on cars, and be a care taker. All with out the proper education to get me started. But if there was a class that trained people for the skilled labor we wouldn’t need people like me to pick up the slack from all the collage kids that want a high paying job plus it would make it easier for the people 50+ to retire early.
      Thank for your time

      ryan | 05/15/11 | 8:22 pm
    82. Dear Mr. Rowe, I’m a Master auto mechanic. I’ve been turning a wrench for almost 20 years. My specialty is computer diagnostics and electrical repairs. I’m “uneducated” having dropped out of my junior year in high school. My departure was, “You don’t want to be here; we don’t get paid for you to be here. You have 30 mins to clean out your locker and leave school property.” as said by the Dean of students. I acknowledge it was my own doing to cause this speech. At that time of my life, the only thing I was good at was knowing how an engine worked. I took this tiny bit of knowledge and entered the Fast Lube industry. I worked very hard for the next 4 years to learn the trade, ultimately finding that trade wasn’t for me. I wanted to FIX cars. I transitioned from fast lube to auto repair, and over the next 5 years of on-the-job training, I built up some skills. I also had to deal with a lot of hazing from older techs. I had to deal with being the scapegoat of problems that weren’t my doing. I had to deal with being handed jobs I wasn’t qualified to do. Everything that an older brother would give his little brother on a daily basis. All this while getting paid $11/hr. But what else could I do?

      So what is my point? Who wants to put up with being on the bottom getting pooped on by your senior peers and getting paid scratch? My industry is VERY BAD for this. We are hurting for qualified techs, but the younger generation is just NOT ready to enter the “hands on” work force. They are NOT tough enough. They don’t want to be treated the way I was, and I don’t blame them. Schools are telling our children to get a collage degree instead of learning a trade. But it’s more than just learning a trade; it’s also a need for our trades to be more acceptive and patient to help those who decide to get dirty.

      Vocational schools are costing more and more. Nowadays I see a college education being a better choice than a “hands on” work life. I see those who make the decision of a entering a trade have dreams of making big money first and learning the trade second. I see them expect to get paid top dollar without earning their pay with the practical application of skills. This next generation is not READY for HARD WORK. Training alone won’t do. The whole Blue Collar idea must change. Until it does, the gap will get wider and wider. (Just so you know, my college educated wife proofread and edited this letter.)
      Thank you
      Ray S. Pierce

      Ray S. Pierce | 05/15/11 | 8:06 pm
    83. Mike, what realy frost me is that after 40 years in the construction trades (started as a carpenter apprentice in 1970 at age 17) I can’t get a job as a superintendent because I don’t have a BS degree and two years experience!
      In my first twenty years I still did not know what the hell I was doing!

      Frank Lauro | 05/15/11 | 8:04 pm
    84. Hopefully someone listens to this speech and does something. I remember a time when OJT (on the job training, for those who dont remember, since it has become extinct) was acceptable for employment. Now you MUST have a college degree to be anything other than a cashier or cook at a McDonald’s. I was assistant manager at a McDonald’s when I was 16 yrs old…..why? Because I worked there for over a year and was willing to learn. Now a days our kids can’t even get jobs pumping gas or anything because they lack skills……so teach them! My boys are both in the National Guard now….one caught a break and is a border patrol agent making a decent living. My youngest 4 years in the Guard, a tour in Iraq and he cannot even get a job working in a supermarket.

      Keep fighting Mike. If you need assistance you know where to find it!! I also watch Dirty Jobs religiously and now have a different view of the show knowing the background as to its creation.

      Kat | 05/15/11 | 7:47 pm
    85. Amen Brother I am a master tradesman and I live in Georgia. The state of Ga has all but turned it’s back on skilled labor. In Ga. it is all about the corporate heads making money and paying illegals for sub par work so the fat cats can get fatter. Praise the Lord Gov. Deal is about sending illegal labor back where it came from. Ga. is an at will state which means a company can fire an employee at will without just cause or reason. So if a person comes to your place of employment and says I can do ajob for 10 dollars less per hour out the door you go. I hope and pray that returning Ga. back to a right to work state is on the agenda to help bring America back to what is was founded on. Prime example is the roofing industry the companies in Ga charge between $275.00 and $550.00 per square. The Materials cost at a max $100.00 per square. The rest is labor but the corporations only pay about $35.00 per square. The rest goes to a guy sitting behind a desk that is not earning it. That being said it is hard for a guy to say wow I want to go roof in Ga. where they only pay me about 1/10th of what I am worth why some fat cat in an office gets filthy rich. I have been told that is capitalism that is bull. Capitalism is paying folks a fair price for a fair job or quality product. As long as the big money has the big money it can buy all the votes they need on the HILL. Good Luck Brother Mike and please continue to fight the good fight for all of us hard working skilled Laborers.

      Bryan Ferrell | 05/15/11 | 7:46 pm
    86. Mike: Good job. My father did almost anything he could to make a living. He never went to college, but he was a Cabin Boy on freighters and Tanker ships, he started his own appliance repair business, he was a Membership Director for the Loyal Order of Moose, he was a Baker Truck Driver, a Trucker, he sold Fuller Brush supplies, and finally was the District Manager for a local newspaper before he died. We all learned the value of hard work and never shied away from it. I never finished college but I make a decent living in Sales and Marketing in a Defense Sector business. I learned that we all have two ears, two eyes and one moth, and to use them in that proportion. That’s how you learn in this world.



      George Blake | 05/15/11 | 7:45 pm
    87. Wonderful Mike!!! My son has several learning disabilities and is bipolar. He also has and IQ of 130. He’ll never make it in college and has had a hard time with his math and english classes at community college because of his illness. He can take apart and put back together just about any thing. He is a smart kid but learns by doing, working with his hands and getting dirty. No body teaches that way. What does the future hold for him and kids like him?

      I could have gone to college and did for a while to be a teacher. I was also working in a factory at the same time. I quite college and worked factory work for 20 years. I never went home wondering if I had put in a good days work. My father put in 44 years at that factory. My brother is still there. I could have gone into teaching but when the teacher who I was working for as a teacher’s aid ask me why I was going to be a teacher when I already made more money than he did….well I had to think about that. If I had to work I wanted the most money, the best benefits and so on that I could get. I’m proud to have been a “manual” laborer…as a woman I worked my butt off right next to the men.

      Three cheers for the people that work with their bodies, bust a sweat every day and wear calluses on their hands. I’d rather have a man around the house that knows how to do things then one that doesn’t….in fact…I do!!!

      Kimberly | 05/15/11 | 7:43 pm
    88. Awesome comments Mike. Growing up my Dad was a Journeyman Electrician. He was the type of person to get the first call when people were in trouble. He would always go help. He instilled in me the ethic that if you do something, do it so you would sign your name to it when you were done.

      I now have a son that is 19. He is trying to follow in my dad’s steps and has entered into an apprenticeship to become an electrician himself. My wife and I are encouraging him and we are supporting him every step along the way.

      I may sit behind a desk all day, but I value the people in this workd who are willing to go out and get their hands dirty and put in an honest day of work.

      Joe Mills | 05/15/11 | 7:24 pm