"If we are lending money that ostensibly we don't have to kids who have no hope of making it back in order to train them for jobs that clearly don't exist, I might suggest that we've gone around the bend a little bit," says TV personality Mike Rowe, best known as the longtime host of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs.
"There is a real disconnect in the way that we educate vis-a-vis the opportunities that are available. You have—right now—about 3 million jobs that can't be filled," he says, talking about openings in traditional trades ranging from construction to welding to plumbing. "Jobs that typically parents' don't sit down with their kids and say, 'Look, if all goes well, this is what you are going to do.'"
Rowe, who once sang for the Baltimore Opera and worked as an on-air pitchman for QVC, worries that traditional K-12 education demonizes blue-collar fields that pay well and are begging for workers while insisting that everyone get a college degree. He stesses that he's "got nothing against college" but believes it's a huge mistake to push everyone in the same direction regardless of interest or ability. Between Mike Rowe Foundation and Profoundly Disconnected, a venture between Rowe and the heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, Rowe is hoping both to help people find new careers and publicize what he calls "the diploma dilemma."
Rowe recently sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie to discuss his bad experience with a high school guidance counselor (3:20), why he provides scholarships based on work ethic (6:57), the problem with taxpayer-supported college loans (8:40), why America demonizes dirty jobs (11:32), the happiest day of his life (13:14), why following your passion is terrible advice (17:05), why it's so hard to hire good people (21:04), the hidden cost of regulatory compliance (23:16), the problem with Obama's promise to create shovel ready jobs (33:05), efficiency versus effectiveness (34:17), and life after Dirty Jobs (38:24).
Aprrox. 41 minutes. Cameras by Meredith Bragg and Joshua Swain. Edited by Bragg.
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Editor's Note: At one point, Rowe says that college costs have risen over 500 percent the rate of inflation. According to the Department of Labor, college tuition costs have increased over 500 percent in nominal dollars since 1985, not 500 percent the rate of inflation. Read more about the increase here.