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Not long after Dirty Harry started addressing furniture on national television, I began to think seriously about the benefits of keeping my big mouth shut. Alas, it is difficult. Because after three hundred Dirty Jobs and eight years of unintended social anthropology, I’m now afflicted by the possibility that I might have something useful to say. Specifically, I think I’ve stumbled across the solution for closing our country’s Skills Gap, and I find the urge to share my theory irresistible.

I call it my Big Idea for Reinvigorating the Skilled Trades, and I’ve been talking it up wherever the siren song of free press beckons. Last Wednesday, that meant a trip to Ohio, where I shared my Big Idea with Mitt Romney, and managed to confuse half the country in the process, including Ed Shultz over at MSNBC. Ed suggested I am “probably a very nice guy” but clearly on “the wrong stage” and spending time with the “wrong candidate.” He can’t understand why I wasn’t campaigning with President Obama. Other less charitable viewers responded with a flurry of anatomical suggestions, the execution of which I believe to be physically impossible, at least for a man with my limited flexibility. So please, allow me to clarify a few things for Ed, and those who are confused by my recent brush with the (gasp!) Republican Presidential candidate.

A few weeks ago, Governor Romney invited me to participate in a round table conversation with some local CEO’s. The invitation was in response to an open letter from me outlining the aforementioned Big Idea. I’ve written the same letter to lots of people in various positions of influence, including our then newly elected President in 2009. President Obama – distracted no doubt with the business of leading the Free World – never got back to me. Totally understandable. Governor Romney however – in the midst of discussing job issues and preoccupied with the prospect of getting elected – responded right away. Score!

So I bought a ticket and flew to Cleveland to participate in my first ever “Manufacturing Round Table.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, but imagined a thoughtful discussion unfolding between myself and several business leaders, witnessed by a crowd of interested spectators and chronicled by lots of media. Upon landing however, things got a little weird. To my surprise, the local headlines announced that I had “joined the Romney campaign” to “officially endorse” the Governor. Hmm… A quick Google search revealed that several other media outlets had picked up the story as well, and suddenly, my presence in the Buckeye State had become… awkward.

I arrived at the venue and took stock of the situation. Fifteen hundred supporters were crammed onto the factory floor of the American Spring Wire Company. Security was tight, and the press was everywhere. There were big signs, banners and placards, there was cheering and clapping, and a general sense of pandemonium. There was no sign of a table – round or otherwise – and the prospect of an actual discussion was looking increasingly bleak. As I made my way to the stage, that which was obvious to everyone else finally became apparent to me. This was a campaign rally. Super awkward.

In hindsight, it should not have surprised me in the least. When you’re forty days out from a general election in a battleground state – any event is a campaign rally. (Duh.) I quickly realized my expectations for a thoughtful discussion were off the mark and the situation was….let’s just say, uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be rude – I was a guest, after all. But I was not there to publicly endorse him. Obviously, I would need to clear up the whole thing on stage, but Governor Romney beat me to it.

In his opening remarks, the Governor explained that my presence there was intended to be non-partisan and I wasn’t there to endorse anybody. I appreciated that but when it comes to the press, you can’t put the poop back in the goose, and despite his clarification, the blogosphere exploded with speculation that I was angling to be the Secretary of Labor or Ambassador of Dirt or some such craziness. Oy.

The fact is, I went to Ohio to discuss jobs and talk about my Big Idea – namely the importance of a long-term PR Campaign for Skilled Labor as a way of closing the skills gap. That’s all. It’s the same message I’ve been peddling for the last four years, and a PR campaign is not something that either candidate has publicly discussed. Sure, they talk about infrastructure projects and training programs, but those comments are always made in the context of “job creation.”  But closing the Skills Gap is different than “creating jobs.” In fact, it’s the opposite because the Skills Gap does not reflect a lack of opportunity – it reflects a lack of interest. A lack of desire. That’s scary, and worth talking about.

Our country is fundamentally disconnected from hard work and skilled labor. I’ve seen it firsthand in every single state, and the consequences are real. In Alabama, half the skilled workforce is north of fifty, and retiring fast. For every four workers that leave the workforce, only one enters to replace them. Our Skills Gap is a mathematical nightmare, and it’s playing out all over the country. The result? Hundreds of thousands of jobs that companies simply cannot fill. It’s a massive problem that no one talks about, because in most people’s minds a labor shortage can’t exist while unemployment is over 8%. But the facts are clear, and the gap is real.

To close the gap, we need to first change perceptions about the definition of a “good job.” It’s simply unrealistic to expect our kids to get excited about careers that society disparages as “dumb, dirty, or dangerous.” We have to remove the stigmas and stereotypes associated with skilled labor, and stop portraying legitimate opportunities as some sort of “vocational consolation prize.” That means letting go of the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only sensible way to acquire useful knowledge and have a good career. In other words, we need a PR Campaign for Skilled Labor, not just for the benefit of skilled workers, but for the benefit of people who rely on their work… meaning all of us. What could be more bi-partisan?

The problem of course, was not my message – it was the stage from which I delivered it. Some people are disappointed with me because I wasn’t standing next to President Obama when I made my remarks. Perhaps they are under the impression that I can just call The White House and book myself an appearance whenever it suits me. If so, they overestimate my clout. Which is why I’ll take whatever stage I can get, and keep my personal endorsements to myself. We’ve got to close the Skills Gap, and I’d like to continue helping – regardless of who wins the election.

Anyway, that’s the essence of my Big Idea, and I’m happy to say it’s already working. Here at mrW, we’ve raised over a million dollars for tool stipends and Trade Scholarships. We’ve partnered with the AED Foundation and SkillsUSA on a number of programs, and the results are really encouraging. In particular, I’m excited by our relationship with Go Build Alabama. Go Build is a statewide PR initiative that partnered with mikeroweWORKS several years ago. The goal is to show people what a career in the skilled trades is really all about, and change general perceptions through education, media, and basic PR. It’s working, in a fairly significant way. You can see for yourself here. The Go Build Georgia campaign is also underway in Georgia, and my hope is to bring the Go Build model to as many other states as possible.

To sum up: the Skills Gap affects us all, and the reason it exists is not a great mystery. It’s simply a reflection of what we value. And what we value in our workforce needs to change. If you share my addiction to paved roads, cheap food, affordable energy, and indoor plumbing, I hope you’ll support that effort. As for actual endorsements though, enough already. I’m endorsing a PR Campaign for Hard Work and Skilled Labor. No matter who wins.

Mike

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71 Comments

    1. Hey Mike,

      I work in the military healthcare system and I see a lot of young men getting out of the service without any jobs in mind and are not aware of the skilled labor jobs or the gap EG USMC. I figured they could use your Big Idea PR Campaign.

      thanks and god bless the USA

      James | 10/11/13 | 9:07 pm
    2. so weird.. ok whoever you support(ed) doesn’t matter, so insane that someone wanted to boycott and get your ads pulled and other such nonsense because you went to a campaign rally. seriously people, let’s let people like who they like and not crucify them for not believing like you do. that’s just nuts. it’s gotten prevalent these days. I know you were there for other reasons, but it really shouldn’t matter. If you like obama or if you liked romney it’s your prerogative and i may or may not agree with you but it is your right and I won’t boycott you for either opinion. we are restraining freedom in this country by this attitude and PC-ness of late. ugh.

      bekah | 02/10/13 | 11:28 am
    3. I live in Ford country, Northern Ohio and was very happy with the FMC campaign involving your appearances until I saw you and Romney on the same stage. Frankly, I was furious and could not understand why there was not a backlash to have your ads pulled(even though I thought your ads have been the best ad campaign for FMC in years). I was even went blog hunting to join a boycott of some sort until you were fired. Now that I have read your explanation I feel better about your unfortunate association by default to Mr Romney. I forgive you and wish you may years of success with your ads and the Skills Gaps Campaign. I will also be donating to your campaign. Build Ohio, build FMC.

      K Dinchman | 12/31/12 | 7:54 am
    4. Mike, I agree totally with your effort to get more skilled labor. I have talked endlessly about this whenever anything comes up about kids making sure they get “a college education”. This only opens the door to uncomfortableness of kids that don’t do well in school, but stick it out in order to make Mom & Dad happy.

      I have told my kids that if they want a college education, I will do what I can to help them. But I am, not in the slightest, disappointed if they don’t. If they decide to take jobs as electricians, ditch diggers, plumbers, etc., I will be just as proud of them. As a matter of fact, my youngest son graduated, with very good grades, from college with a 4 yr. degree, but he hates to read. He really wants to be a fireman, & now has taken the fire-fighter course (which was VERY difficult), passed, is a volunteer fireman, & now taking a course to get his EMS certification. I couldn’t be more proud. He makes his living for now as a handyman for leasing companies.

      I failed college myself. I trained as an optician & got my certification over 35 yrs ago. Now I have taken a couple of classes & trained myself in computers & am doing small business tech support (without a college degree). I have taken training in welding & electronics. I can now do a few more trade occupations if I like. Knowing what I know now, I probably would NOT have gone to college (to just fail) & would have gone to a trade school. There are A LOT of trades that interest me now that I have tested the waters.

      Keep up the good work & I support you 100%. You are one of my favorite TV personalities (along with Bugs Bunny & Yosemite Sam, just kidding! Although I do like them as well!) I always watch your Dirty Jobs show & try to catch any of the shows you narrate. Thanks!!

      C L Shaw | 11/12/12 | 2:28 pm
    5. Mike,
      In my particular case you are preaching to the choir. As a Nevada State Assemblyman I have been pushing the idea of reintroduced CTE(career and technical education) from middle school on for close to a decade now. Frankly, I have yet to meet a poor plumber.

      A great story is the one of the kid who was said to be illiterate when it came to math. He entered a local vo-tech high school with an emphasis on a plumbing track. After school he entered the Navy as a plumbers mate. On leave, he had to use hydrology calculus to explain his job to his old teachers.

      Your Big Idea works wherever it is tried, and it works in more than just the areas you wrote about.

      Bob Beers | 10/27/12 | 9:39 am
    6. Well done Mike, btw try ice road trucking in Canada, is a damn dirty job

      Chris | 10/25/12 | 2:57 am
    7. Don’t sweat your actions. You done good. Don’t let the left media second guess what you did. You stood up for your passion. When Romney wins, I see you as US Labor Director, fixing all that is broken.
      Buck up…keep visible and have fun.
      Life is too short to back peddle. Go for it!

      Winggal | 10/23/12 | 7:33 pm
    8. Nothing to apologize for. Thank you for championing an effort to close the skills gap. You are right on the money. As most problems in our nation, the skills gap is not a partisan issue so thanks for not narrowing your message to one party or the other. I was disappointed, however to hear Obama say that he wanted to create only high skilled jobs and not the lower skilled jobs. Using terms like “high skilled” and “low skilled” only perpetuates society’s dim view of skilled labor. It’s time to fix our thinking in this area. Thanks for calling us to task, Mike.

      Alden | 10/17/12 | 9:51 am
    9. Thanks for the explanation, Mike. I understand. I would also like to help.

      Alyse | 10/16/12 | 11:14 pm
    10. Mike, I know it’s been a couple of weeks since your explanation was posted but I still appreciate it. I understand now. Keep up the good work! :)

      Harold | 10/15/12 | 6:58 pm
    11. Damn! You are so cute! I guess you are forgiven.
      Thanks for sharing.

      J Bird | 10/09/12 | 6:55 pm
    12. Hi Mike,
      I was just wondering if you reply to any of the comments on your website. I just posted a comment on your mission’s video and I was just wondering if you’d ever read it or answer it. I’m sure you get a lot of emails on a daily basis, so I strolled up and down to see if once you commented on what other website members had said about your ideas.
      I guess basically, this email is a test to see the purpose of the website. Yet I also think that if your commenters receive some sort of a short correspondence to their posts here and there, you will have more people willing to join you on your mission rather than just being as a president of a nation who hardly ever replies to what his citizens are telling him. I think you know what I mean from your experience in trying to write to Obama. I think you are on the right track to reach people, yet I think if you get more involved with your website members, they will do the same with you, instead of thinking ‘well, I’m just typing for nothing’. I mean, instead of just being some figure on TV or behind a camera. Lol, and I love the picture you used for this blog post. Only you would. That’s what I feel makes a great person.

      Your awesome and witty, keep it up!

      Sincerely,

      Me ;0)

      Karina | 10/08/12 | 1:19 pm
    13. Very well said Mike. While an endorsement wasn’t intended, you definitely picked the stage on which your Big Idea has a fighting chance – - and is welcomed by forward-looking Americans who won’t sell their country up the river for a handout. Keep bringing it!!!

      David

      David White | 10/06/12 | 2:05 pm
    14. Thank you for what you said about work and skilled labor, we who put everything we have into our jobs day in and day out do deserve a little more respect. I’m a garbage man and I have people look down on me for it, truth is I went to college, did the whole degree thing and what did I get? A lot of debt, I make a lot more money driving a garbage truck then what I went to school for. You do have to go through a lot of training to run a $200,000 dollar truck, they just don’t put anybody behind the wheel. No matter what you do it takes some kind of talent to do it. THANK YOU MIKE ROWE for letting the average working mans voice be heard.

      Jason | 10/05/12 | 3:34 pm
    15. Thanks for the update Mike, but I can smell a photoshop job a mile away and despite their shared desire to be the most powerful man on the planet, it’s just not physically possible for their melons to dwarf yours like that – you know, gravity and whatnot.

      You aint foolin’ nobody with this. :)

      Brent | 10/03/12 | 9:43 pm
    16. Mike…
      Two things…
      First, that’s a very sound idea. Skilled trademen are a dinosaur around here. The few that have these skills charge a premium rate for thier services and skew the market. When a part that costs a penny nets an installer $100, something is terribly wrong with the market. There needs to be more skilled tradesmen to provide healthy competition. Not only would this approach mean higher wages for thousands of people across the country, this would translate into lower rates across the board and lead to more work for the industry as a whole. People simply will do without or figure out how to do it themselves… while great if they’re hanging a picture… a little tough if they’re trying to hang a $700 PTZ Security Camera.

      Which leads me to my second point… wanna get dirty? I install CCTV products in Cleveland Ohio. Best job on the planet… it’s hard enough that no one wants to do it and fun as hell, if you don’t mind a little blood, dirt and despair along the way. You can’t be afraid of heights, holes or hornets and you got to love catching bad guys. Drop me a line… you won’t regret it.

      Mike from Ohio | 10/03/12 | 8:20 pm
    17. Hi Mike glad this was cleared up the next time your making vellum in upstate NY search me out I’ll buy you some beer and introduce to our local brew master…I’ll find some disgusting stuff for your staff to eat.

      Rteefact | 10/03/12 | 7:29 pm
    18. Thanks mike,
      I too, was confused by the whole thing and sent you a note. You have redeemed yourself to a retired woman of the proud labor force. You’re “big idea” is BIG. And worth further research. Looking forward to seeing you on last man and works. Sincerely, lee Campbell of Florida

      Lee Campbell | 10/03/12 | 5:16 pm
    19. I must admit I was taken aback when I saw you on the stage and I thank you for the clarification but the truth is your political views are your choice but your message and campaign are something important to ALL AMERICANS. I hope you’ll collect these emails to keep us who comment posted on your progress and on how we can help.

      BALTIMORE IS PROUD OF YOU and still misses you on Sunday mornings (smile)

      Nicole | 10/03/12 | 5:03 pm
    20. Here, here! I agree with you 100%. I have a 24 year old son who was working in a machine shop until his recent lay-off. I have to say I have attempted to convince him that college was a much better choice, but after reading your statement above, I realize I’ve been wrong. If he is happy doing skilled labor, then I am happy for him. He may have an IQ of something over 130, but we need smart people in skilled jobs too! I don’t care where you promote your Big Idea – keep up the good work! (And on a personal note, damn I wish you were still single!! lol)

      Jean | 10/03/12 | 4:56 pm
    21. thank you for sharing this. congrats on the success of your programs. you are smart, funny and a beacon of no nonsense, down and dirty fabulousness!

      jen | 10/03/12 | 4:51 pm
    22. Thank you for taking the time to clarify. The mission of Briding the Skills Gap is both adnirable and necessary if we are to preserve living wage jobs for trades people. It was just such an odd juxtaposition of someone who is a champion of the working person with an outsourcing, offshoring, pension-fund busting, tax-sheltering private equity tool. My humble apologies for my rush to judgement. Can’t waqit to see the next episode of Dirty Jobs.

      Jim Deanne | 10/03/12 | 4:36 pm
    23. Thank you, Mike, for the clarification. I applaud you on your efforts.

      Christine Calhoun | 10/03/12 | 2:58 pm
    24. Mike, Thank you for taking the time to clear that up! Keep up the good work that you do, and I’ll keep being a huge fan. I’m sorry to have misjudged you…I should have known better! Huge fan in Colorado, Melanie Golden

      Melanie Golden | 10/03/12 | 2:34 pm
    25. MIKE—MY APOLOGIES, I WILL DEFER MY ILL AND HURT FEELINGS. YOUR ARE SO RIGHT ABOUT THE SKILLS GAP. KEEP UP THE CONVERSATION.

      Richard | 10/03/12 | 1:46 pm
    26. OK so now I get the picture. Are you a supporter of trade unions? We need jobs in Wisconsin too.

      Gary | 10/03/12 | 1:27 pm
    27. Whoops! Sorry, should have known better. Keep on working for good jobs and accept my apologies.

      Steve Harden | 10/03/12 | 1:06 pm
    28. Hey Mike,
      I didn’t know about this PR campaign that you’d been working on but I do agree with you about the workforce and what the average person considers a “decent job” since I pretty much grew up with parents that had opposite views about what a job is really about. Now, I can make my own decisions of course and so should the people who heard where you gave your speech and spoke about the issue. It doesn’t matter where you spoke about it, but that you spoke at all. Many people have an opinion but will never act on it, so thank you for that. You have balls! And also, I want to send a fanletter but don’t know where to send it. Can you please let me know? Thanks XD

      Meghan | 10/03/12 | 11:23 am
    29. Mike, I’m sorry about the mean things I thought about you when I heard you were supporting Romney. I probably should’ve known better; you can’t take anything at face value during an election year.

      Tom | 10/03/12 | 5:44 am
    30. As you know, deciding to “ruffle some feathers” on purpose is one thing—-finding out you’ve ruffled them unintentionally is downright frustrating. I can see how it was not what you expected, but hopefully, you don’t regret doing it. You have a mission, and a message, and since you know what to do with a microphone when offered one…it seemed like a no-brainer. Who’s to say this won’t end up being a big blessing for MrW anyway? I think your choice to do it was fine.

      Anyway, it was kind of funny reading through the comments you received. How does it feel being in the middle of our Country’s current game of Red Rover, Red Rover? (…“send Mike Rowe right over!”)

      Either way, I think this experience will be a great addition to your memoirs. And many more now know of MrW’s.

      P.S. – I like the picture—I did not realize the magnitude of Romney’s and Obama’s heads until just this very moment… amazing!

      Lisa | 10/02/12 | 10:04 pm
    31. Amen,Mike,Amen.

      Frank | 10/02/12 | 7:20 pm
    32. To quote Mrs. Romney; “this is hard.” Celebrity and politics has always been a potent mix. One that could go either way, good or very bad and awkward. The late great Will Rogers navigated those dangerous waters with aplomb. But, he wasn’t trying to promote a mission, not working for a cause. Sorry that the aftertaste of your experience was a sour one, Mike.

      I hope you keep writing your letters. And cultivate an atmosphere where thoughtful people can help fill in the blanks of this very serious problem. Also I would add, as a couple others have said, think a few steps ahead of the host who invites you. And please never ever take the plans put before you for granted. That’s how a thoughtful round table discussion gets lost at a political rally. A mere one month ahead of a very important election.

      Gayle | 10/02/12 | 6:50 pm
    33. u r an idiot.

      eom

      steve | 10/02/12 | 6:30 pm
    34. Mike,

      My friends from all across the political spectrum love your goals, and we’d choose you over the current major political candidates for POTUS or Congress.

      Good luck!

      Lucas | 10/02/12 | 5:23 pm
    35. Mike -I have a degree in Electronic Technology, I work at a Funeral Home. the degree really does me a lot of good. Before I started work here I worked at a Lumber Mill and a 18 Wheeler parts house. I have to agree the work force is aging and very few younger people are coming in to take there place when they retire or die for some that stay at work way past retirement age. I also have three teen girls so I see how young people think about this kind of work. It’s below them or so they think, a large % of them think that they can go to collage and come out and have a high paying job. and a good portion of those young adults end up back home with out a job and no skill to get a manual labor job. But I have also seen one other problem I’m not sure you are aware of. The government has made it hard for teens to get jobs like this. I’m talking jobs that they can be trained to do in a week or two with their hands. Jobs that don’t require any collage to do or even a high school education for that matter. Around here a teen has to be 17 just to flip burgers, by that point in life most of them have become use to relying on their parents to support them. Just in the last 15 years the age of the people behind the counter of fast food places around here went up by a good 15 to 20 years of age. And you are right manual labor jobs are looked down at. Even in my job a guy that is two years younger then me but is a funeral director looks down at me because I do the manual labor work around there and he does well what a funeral director does. I respect what he has to do and I see why he makes more money then me but it is a job just like mine. We both have to do what we do for a funeral to happen. I do all the set up in the grave yards, rain, sleet snow, hail, thunder storm or even tornado, I have to get out there and do my job. i take pride in what I do because I make things look nice for the families. And at that point it’s just as important as the guys that keep our lights on, make sure water comes to our homes, take our garbage away, build our homes, transport all the goods we buy every day, keep the roads in good shape, and all those other jobs that young people don’t even think about doing because as you have stated we don’t talk about that kind of job as something they should do. I say thank you for doing what you do, On Dirty Jobs and with this cause.

      thanks for showing the dirty side of the working world
      Jason

      Jason | 10/02/12 | 4:03 pm
    36. Dear Mike,
      I very much agree with you that America needs more skilled labor.
      With out getting into politics a thought crossed my mind as I read you post.
      With your background in Hollywood(using that term loosely)maybe could persuade someone to make a show with the main character a hard working positive role model who is a skilled laborer.
      I think that Dirty Jobs all ready does a good of showing laborers in a positive light.
      Just an idea that is far easier then politics and less complicated. Doctor shows push more youth in to the medical field and law shows do the same why not have a show for skilled laborers.

      Jerrad | 10/02/12 | 11:14 am
    37. I love that you still have some naviette , Mike . I proudly wore my MRW cap out in public yesterday. I laughed at the photoshop pix at the top of the page.

      Thanks for the Blog.
      Hugs
      Bev

      cherryrn | 10/02/12 | 7:54 am
    38. Mr. Rowe:

      Very good. Thank you for the explanation, sir.

      Might I venture to suggest, however, that the current anti-Union climate in this country is also contributing to the devaluing of the skilled trades and is a further reason youngsters don’t see these as career paths?

      Even for skilled labor, if it is nonunion skilled labor, you can expect to earn a great deal less over the course of your life than someone with 2 years of college who is modestly successful at selling cars or life insurance. This makes it hard to show young people that going to work every day, pulling wire, laying brick or plumbing a power plant is a worth goal. Instead, we point to these people as overpaid labor, and instead exhort them to “go to school and make something of themselves.”

      My grandfather was a proud member of the IBEW for roughly 40 years. I support skilled UNION labor.

      Just another component in the overall picture for you to think about.

      Daniel Tabor

      Daniel Tabor | 10/01/12 | 10:06 pm
    39. Well said.

      Gary | 10/01/12 | 8:51 pm
    40. TY for the explanation of your appearance. It was awkward to watch and Romney (in the cutaways) seemed to not know who you were and what you did.
      Glad I checked your site; I am interested in this skills idea, and your appearance paid off for people like me. I continue my intense crush on you! ;)

      shani k | 10/01/12 | 8:51 pm
    41. Can I be both sympathetic to the awkwardness and convinced you should have known better? Honestly, Mr. Rowe. How could it NOT be a campaign event?

      I agree that that encouraging training and finding funding for scholarships are a mission worth supporting – regardless of venue.

      However I’m not sure the “Skills Gap” is exactly what you are making it out to be. Some economists and labor experts suggest it is really more of a myth. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/07/the-big-jobs-myth-american-workers-arent-ready-for-american-jobs/260169/

      Jeanine | 10/01/12 | 7:19 pm
    42. I don’t know why people cringe when their celebrity heroes hold personal beliefs they don’t share. It’s not like Clint Eastwood has ceased being an incredible actor/director/storyteller because of his endorsement; heck, I applaud the courage of anyone who can ad-lib a comedy bit with an inanimate object to an enormous crowd, no matter the result.

      It’s not like Rob Schneider is any less of a… uhh, whatever he does… because of his campaign to protect parents from learning the science behind vaccinations.

      Similarly, I didn’t rush to judge you as others have. Frankly, whether you believe Romney’s trickle-down “pro growth” shtick or not is your business. I would support *you* in your noble effort even if you were partisan. Good work, and good luck! We need more Americans like you.

      Sean | 10/01/12 | 6:32 pm
    43. Nothing wrong with the skilled labor situation that job security and a salary capable of buying a house, health insurance and funding a pension wouldn’t fix. Hint: sack the lawyers and marketers, or cut their pay in half. Hint: Mitt, you screwed the pooch when you put skilled workers out of their jobs.

      The Round Table wasn’t about the Skills Gap. It was about how to get people to commit to skilled trades while continuing to screw them over. When people say a problem is “complex,” the problem is generally simple. It’s solving it without making any changes that’s complex.

      Steve D | 10/01/12 | 6:28 pm
    44. Hi Mike,

      I think it was good that you went to Ohio.
      I have been saying the same thing about PR and the Skilled Trades.
      I work for a Michigan Works! administration agency in Southeast Michigan.

      I have been thinking about hiring you to do some summits here for educators, parents, and everyone else.

      It would be awesome if you could help us generate the money needed for a PR campaign. WHat do I need to do?

      Thanks,

      Susan

      Susan | 10/01/12 | 6:08 pm
    45. I appreciate what you are standing for. I am a mother of a daughter who transferred herself to a vocational high school to pursue her dream of becoming a hairdresser. While attending this school, she became involved with SkillsUSA, and was eventually elected to Historian at the state level. She travelled to several states endorsing the incredible value of vocational high schools. These schools are not for “dumb” kids, as many still believe. For decades there has been a stigma that these schools are for students who are not making the grade in regular high schools, or aren’t “cut out” for college. My daughter and her classmates took the same MCAS, had the same offerings of classes (including honors courses) and also graduated with certification in a field. These kids got in-depth, real world training and hands on work experience before they ever got their diplomas. This training allows those kids to hit the ground running, and on average they earn somewhere around 18% more than their counterparts, right out of the gate. I’m a fan of these schools, and of your stance, but mostly I’m a fan of these young adults that have chosen to educate themselves in such a positive manner. Go, Dirty Jobs! For the record, I am 41 year-old mother of 5 with a high school education and I sold cars for a living for years, after waiting tables for years before that. And I was awesome at both.

      Teri Ludwig | 10/01/12 | 6:05 pm
    46. Mike,
      Glad you took the opportunity to get your message out, again, regardless of the stage or venue. It was unfortunate that the campaign didn’t follow-through with the roundtable, but even more disappointing that the President’s staff have never contacted you. Hope to cook for you and crew sometime…keep up the great work on Dirty Jobs!
      Chef John

      Chef John | 10/01/12 | 4:49 pm
    47. Thank you for your thoughtful explanation, Mr. Rowe.

      I wish I knew someone like you back before I got my MA in Econ, then discovered that I love fixing skis, snowboards, and bikes far more than sitting at a desk. I wish you all the best and do hope you can bring some of the good ideas of the past (like apprenticeship) into the modern workforce. At the very least, I hope kids learn about how rewarding it is at the end of the day to see something they fixed or something they built… there’s nothing quite like it.

      Best Regards,
      Ken Lord

      Ken | 10/01/12 | 4:44 pm
    48. being that I’m “skilled labor” in a print shop this is important to me… we always need good people and we never have time to train them! there is a good system of unions that will train you for sheet metal or electrician, mechanic, or carpentry… but what about press operators, carpet installation, house painters, street pavers, dishwasher repair or roofing? there are a lot of really specific jobs out there and nobody teaching people how to do them…

      personally I’ve been trying to get someone to teach me how to operate a 6 color press for 6 years… I think it’s just fascinating work… yeah it’s dirty and loud and at times requires some heavy manual labor… but from watching the press run in print shops it looks like the most fun you could ever have with buckets of ink… I’m sure there’s people out there that think that about all kinds of skilled jobs… let’s get these people trained on what interests them!

      Phoenix | 10/01/12 | 4:27 pm
    49. Come back to the BSO! We miss you.

      John | 10/01/12 | 4:27 pm
    50. I must confess that I briefly thought you were less cool. Having read your words above however, you are now even cooler than before this whole kerfluffle.

      Joe | 10/01/12 | 4:22 pm
    51. Mr. Rowe,

      Once you realized that this was NOT a roundtable discussion as you thought it was, you should have politely declined to appear on stage. When you stepped on that stage, you stepped in IT. There’s no disclaimer or hedging that can stop the Romney campaign from using YOUR image on HIS stage.

      I’m interested in your ideas on jobs, too, but it now appears that the guy who made a name for himself doing dirty jobs, like the 47% do every day, thought it was OK to make a campaign stop with Romney.

      Disappointing, to say the least.

      Wexler

      William W. Wexler | 10/01/12 | 4:14 pm
    52. Simply put Mr. Rowe – you are the man! So glad you care about these things, and are actively working to improve this situation in our country.

      Marco | 10/01/12 | 3:29 pm
    53. Mike..thank you so much for the work you are doing. I employ 50 people who work in a mail environment daily, sorting, being couriers and handling some really ” dirty” paper for some very unappreciative people. It is so incredibly unfortunate that most people do not realize that for almost every aspect of life they enjoy, there is a hands on skilled labor worker that has enabled them to have the glory to be “above them”. I never went to college, I worked my way up the management ladder in a very corporate world. I am a 54 year old woman, I am proud to be a working manager. I have never nor will I ever ask any employee to do anything I have not done. I work at a private college with children of affluence. I make it a point to let my staff know daily how much I respect and admire them. My entire management profile comes from a little book called “Fish”. The entire philosophy and mine is easy, enjoy what ever you are doing and be the best at it..even if that means taking out the trash! I appreciate your efforts! Deb

      Debra | 10/01/12 | 3:11 pm
    54. Great post Mike!

      I admit, when I read some of what the media was writing, I was a little disappointed, due to my own, personal, political leanings. I’m glad I found this blog; you are a very eloquent dude and your ideas have merit. It’s unfortunate you were the victim of modern sensationalism, but glad you’re still stepping up to voice an opinion, regardless.

      If you ever chose to run for anything (in Canada), you’ve got my vote.

      Generic Canadian #3928 | 10/01/12 | 3:03 pm
    55. I’m sorry that you had to go through that BS – and the so-called liberals who sent you hatemail need to grow the @#$% up.

      my reaction to the news was “what? really?! are you kidding?!” … apparently they were kidding :P (well.. simply misinformed)

      sounds like you and Mike Holmes from Canada need to team up :P Get both countries on board with keeping the skilled trades (we need) alive.

      Derek | 10/01/12 | 3:01 pm
    56. I’m glad you’ve posted the story of how you ended up on that stage. As someone who has no interest in watching Romney actually speak (I’ve heard enough of what he has to say, and don’t need to raise my blood pressure by watching more of him), I was truly baffled to see clips of you on stage with the candidate least likely to give a damn about the kind of folks you’ve worked with on your show. My years-long crush on you can now happily resume.

      Becca | 10/01/12 | 2:59 pm
    57. You’re doing a great job over there Mike and you’re making a positive difference. Keep up the good work. :)

      Ali. (Bp.) | 10/01/12 | 2:49 pm
    58. I’m sorry you had to go through that and further explain even after Romney, on stage, said you were not there to endorse him. I hope this will help people understand what your efforts are about. Keep doing what you’re doing, Mike. You have many behind you no matter who is on stage with you. Just thought you would like to know. :)

      Francesca | 10/01/12 | 2:10 pm
    59. Mike,

      From one Mike to another try taking this up with Bill Clinton. Now that he essentially can’t run for office anymore he’s off doing what he thinks is best. And currently that happens to be a non-partisan way of bringing together various groups and then letting them working together. He’s just the guy greasing the wheels and then he goes off to do it somewhere else while, arguably, the real hard work gets done. But hey often that’s the best we can hope for from a politician either current or retired.

      Try: http://www.clintonfoundation.org/main/our-work/by-initiative/clinton-economic-opportunity-initiative/about.html

      Mike Hlsher | 10/01/12 | 2:09 pm
    60. Great blog as always Mike. I’m sorry you had to go through all this rigmarole when your intentions were nothing but honorable. Keep fighting the good fight! We’re all with you!

      ~Jen | 10/01/12 | 1:11 pm
    61. Hey Mikey,

      It does sound like you are apologizing for standing on the platform with a presidential candidate that you chose not to endorse one way or another (The non endorsement I understand because of the nature of your work, but the apologizing i am confused about)

      I am sorry though that you were emotionally affected by the squeaky wheel of people who oppose the candidate that you stood next to.

      Stand strong in your choices and your purpose whether you explain it or not.

      So far your actions have spoken louder than words and only those who can truly hear and see your fruits will even understand the truth anyway of your work.

      I am a big fan of your purpose in life and love watching it unfold.

      Hang in there and thanks for always entertaining us and truly liking the people you work with.

      Lucy Rizo | 10/01/12 | 12:46 pm
    62. Say it ain’t so Mike, I am disappointed that you have recanted your endorsement of Romney and taken the Detant’e approach. If the current administration gets re-elected there will be no jobs, you have a good idea, unfortunately your ability to implemented will be totally squashed with Obama’s re-election.
      Hard work and skilled labor has no place in Obamanation, his approach is to get as many as possible not working. Can’t believe you either fell for his BS or believe he will pay you credence after the election. Good Luck to you sir and your idea.

      chuck | 10/01/12 | 12:44 pm
    63. Hey Mike,
      I’m sorry that “fans” jumped all over you for ANY reason. We all have the right to endorse or speak for whatever we choose – that is what’s SUPPOSED to be so great about America. But, some people are only “tolerant” as long as you agree with them. I’m sorry that you had to make this “clarifying” statement at all. And I LOVE your Big Idea – I have two boys and one has chosen the path of skilled labor and the other college and you are 100% correct on the attitude towards each. A PR campaign is MUCH needed.
      Dana :-)

      Dana | 10/01/12 | 11:53 am
    64. Mike,
      As one who came up through the ranks from scooping hog poop, cleaning gut barrels in a packing plant, doing farm and retail labor, to pay for college, and be in career in computers for over 25 years now, I believe very much in the mission of restoring the value of the working man/woman in our country. We’ve gotten into a “service” economy and have sold our collective soul to other places to provide the US with cheap goods. We need our manufacturing and industry back.

      There are several things that play into this, Energy and environmental lobby has become intertwined and incestuous. The environmental movement in our country have placed undue burdensome regulations on energy policies.

      I can still weld, and build because I learned these skills in my youth. I know how to raise cattle, fix a prolapsed uterus on a sow, mend a barb wire fence, among many other skills that remain in memory. We once had high schools teaching kids how to weld, fix cars, build houses and do electrical and plumbing, now we have high schools teaching babies how to have babies or use a condom correctly. AND we have Colleges that teach teachers that individualism and initiative is evil, WTH?

      I have NO faith in politicians. None. I tend to think the only thing they think about it getting elected or re-elected. Mittens or Oblamo, one will take us over an economic cliff faster.

      God bless you in your efforts, We love Dirty Jobs, and my wife wants you to personally talk her into trading her Honda in for a Ford. (go figure.)

      Keep up the fight. It is one worth winning.

      Yours truly in Nebraska NebraskaDad.

      Nebraska Dad | 10/01/12 | 11:50 am
    65. Mike,
      You should’ve run for President. I’ve been saying that for a very long time. You’re interested in the meat and potatoes, not the fluff.

      Chris C. | 10/01/12 | 11:44 am
    66. Thanks for the message Mike. Too bad it looked like the bait and switch were pulled on you. Though I am not a Romney supporter, I am glad he at least tried to clarify why you were there.

      I am great fan of the show. Here’s to not running out of dirty jobs. The number has to be finite though, right?

      Dana

      Dana Foulks | 10/01/12 | 11:38 am
    67. You’re all right Mike. Your Big Idea is a GREAT idea – and either candidate would be smart to address this issue. BTW, thoroughly enjoying “How booze built America”… it’s funny AND educational.

      Bob G | 10/01/12 | 11:29 am
    68. I am relieved to read your take on last week’s experience. I was assuming you had anticipated the reactions of both sides and decided it was still worth it. That despite your claiming and even Romney stating it was not an endorsement, your presence still represented a tacit approval. That you were just trying to have your cake and eat it, too. Instead, it was really a rather uncomfortable situation for you and I’m sorry, I empathize.

      I love you Mike, but am astounded at the naivete. No, you shouldn’t have been surprised that an event in a battleground state so close to election would be anything other than a rally. It amazes me that someone of your experience didn’t foresee the reality of the situation, the interpretation by the media, and the strong reaction by people who had only passing familiarity with you. In other words, people who didn’t previously come here, haven’t read your words, and are not very likely to do so now.

      I support you, your message, your plan, and understand you’d like to take every opportunity to get it out there. And it’s admirable to try to be non-partisan. But realize that in some situations it will be nearly impossible, because appearances trump all. Most people will just see an image, a headline, maybe hear a quick sound-byte. Not every opportunity is worth taking, when it may do more damage than good.

      I hope this hasn’t hurt the possibility of your message being heard by those who need to hear it. I hope not too many people will stick with the snap judgement they made, write you off, and close their ears. Good luck, sincerely, but judge more carefully next time.

      MirandaFawkes | 10/01/12 | 11:00 am