I wasted no time going to the video site to see “Naked Mike” – and I wasn’t disappointed – but I must admit that his sincere message trumped the appealing visual.
Let’s be clear here, it’s Mike Rowe, the Dirty Jobs guy and he’s going head-first into the Culture War to raise awareness that there are actual good jobs out there to be had – not just the phony ones you see people humiliating themselves for every week on shows like American Idol and The Voice.
Those jobs he says, don’t exist – but in this video (did I mention he’s naked in it?) Mike Rowe is promoting the Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation MRW/UTI Scholarship.
In the video Rowe stands naked wearing only a ball cap, holding a strategically placed “Help Wanted” sign. His point? Trucking keeps American homes and businesses furnished and functioning; yet there is a shortage of trained diesel mechanics. He is promoting a dirty-but-necessary job and the training that precedes employment. He is reminding us that hard work pays, and announcing a scholarship fund for those willing to work hard.
I was motivated to hear more from this Dirty Jobs star with the genuine interest in promoting vocational training, so I looked up his address to the U.S. Senate.
Here’s an excerpt that touched me:
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.
Then Rowe makes the connection between America’s lust for higher education and unemployment:
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.
Up until now I had only known Mike Rowe as the star of Discovery Network’s Dirty Jobs and the spokesman for Ford. His baritone voice, rugged good looks and easy going nature appeal to us women, for sure, but to Average Joes also. More importantly, he has credibility and likability because his assessment of the critical shortage of mechanics and other trades people is spot on and he is advocating a renewed national work ethic.
Now, I’ll take another look at that video . . . with the sound off.
by T.M. Burroughs
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