Mike Rowe takes on America's skills gap problem

Mike Rowe

As unemployment hovers near historic lows, over 80% of construction firms have reported they are having a hard time finding qualified workers to hire, while the U.S. Department of Education reports that there will be 68% more job openings in infrastructure-related fields in the next five years than there are people training to fill them.

In honor of our nation’s upcoming Labor Day, I was excited to catch up with Mike Rowe, dubbed the “Dirtiest Man on TV.” Mike is the creator, executive producer and host of TV’s Dirty Jobs and Somebody’s Gotta Do it and executive producer and host of Facebook’s Returning the Favor. He’s also the founder and CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which awards scholarships based on work ethic to students pursuing a career in the skilled trades. He delivers a podcast called The Way I Heard It, which is a five-minute mystery designed for people with a curious mind and a short attention span.

I connected with Rowe this week to talk about his take on why the U.S. has so many job openings in fields such as construction and manufacturing that are not filled, why that’s damaging to our country, and what we can do about it.

Kathy Caprino: Mike, why does the U.S. continue to have so many job openings in fields such as construction and manufacturing, and not enough people to fill them?

Mike Rowe: In a very general way, our society has fallen out of love with the skilled trades. Part of the problem is a myriad of myths and misperceptions that surround the jobs themselves, but the biggest cause is our stubborn belief that a four-year degree is the best path for the most people. This cookie-cutter approach to education has pushed an entire generation away from millions of good jobs, while driving the cost of college through the roof. The result is a skills gap that gets wider every year, and a student loan crisis unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

Continue reading at forbes.com.

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