"hard work needs a PR campaign"

Posted on December 24, 2008. Filed under education

I’ve always liked Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame. What started as a simple hosting gig for him turned into a mission, really. He’s said many times that he feels a real kinship with the people who do the dirty jobs, and that people who don’t take them for granted way too much.

His latest project is mikeroweWORKS.com. Click through and watch the mission statement. It’s 9 minutes, 44 seconds out of your life, but it’s totally worth it. It’s Mike Rowe without a hint of sarcasm, but every bit as interesting and compelling as when he’s on TV.

His basic premise is that “working the trades” has been villified. Everyone wants to go to college, because working as a plumber or a carpenter or an ironworker is beneath them. He’s creating this site as a community and an advocate for people considering going to trade school to learn a skill. He’s promoting the idea of work – not “9-to-5 in an office” work, but “get your hands dirty and actually build something” work.

I read an article some time ago – I absolutely forget where – that said we, as parents, should not encourage our children to go to college above all else. There apparently is a type of person for whom college is not the solution. There are people who should go to trade school and learn a manual skill.

The problem is that this idea has been downplayed for years. You “settle” for trade school. You “aspire” to college.

Mike Rowe makes a heck of a case that we need to change our attitude in this regard. This country needs more plumbers. It needs more concrete workers. It needs more electricians. It needs more people to do the work that cannot be offshored to India.

Sadly for me, the last thing this country needs is more Web developers. Hell, there’s probably a guy in Mumbai doing my job right now.

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