Mike Rowe Encourages Michigan Kids to Consider Careers in the Skilled Trades, Including Healthcare Jobs

Mike Rowe may be famous for doing “Dirty Jobs,” but the man has a true gift as a storyteller.

The entertainer and current host of “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” wowed Mackinac Policy Conference guests with his talk about changing the conversation around what constitutes a good job and why work shouldn’t be a dirty word.

“Last time I was here I was picking up horse crap with a guy named George,” he quipped.

Rowe was on the island to promote a new partnership between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan’s Talent Investment Agency, Rowe’s mikeroweWORKS foundation, and Tom Daldin, host of Under the Radar Michigan. The partnership will produce a series of videos to address misconceptions and perceptions about the skilled trades in Michigan. Data from the state indicates that jobs in skilled trades represent about one-third of Michigan’s employment base, with more than 8,300 jobs currently available.

Six videos will be created with Rowe to engage middle and high school students by highlighting opportunities within tool & die, healthcare, information technology, construction, advanced manufacturing, and welding. Five videos will be made in partnership with Daldin and Under the Radar Michigan, geared toward K-5 students. They’ll highlight jobs in food, agriculture and natural resources, manufacturing, healthcare, design and art, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and information technology.

Rowe said the idea for “Dirty Jobs” came to him when he was anchoring a San Francisco television show called “Evening Magazine”. His grandfather was a manual laborer his entire life and found Rowe’s choice of career amusing. Rowe decided to tape a show in the city’s sewers as a way to entertain his “pop”.

It didn’t go well. He encountered roaches, a rat, and fell in the excrement swirling around his rubber-suited legs. His cameraman threw up – multiple times.

Still, when he looked back at the footage of his interview with a city sewer worker, he said he saw something honest and true coming out of the conversation. At 40, he decided to give up his hosting gig and become a full-time apprentice, capturing his “bumbling” efforts for the camera.

“It was a big discovery for me,” he said.

The career shift worked in his favor with the Discovery Channel eventually picking up the show and turning Rowe into a household name.

“The minute I got out of my way, some really cool things started to happen to me,” he said.

He started his foundation due to his personal experiences meeting small business owners through the show who couldn’t find employees willing to be trained and do the hard work they required. He was also dismayed by the treatment of skilled labor in popular culture and by high school guidance staff, who seemed to be completely focused on pushing four-year degrees, a path that may not be right for everyone.

“We’re educating kids for jobs that aren’t there and loaning them money they won’t be able to pay back,” he said.

Changing the narrative about skilled trades will help more people get the training they need for good, honest work that provides a comfortable living, Rowe said.

Addressing talent gaps in Michigan is one of the main pillars at this year’s Mackinac Policy conference, especially in light of state projections that show 6,700 skilled trade job openings each year through 2022.

“Industries and employers that rely on skilled trade talent are facing a talent gap,” Governor Rick Snyder said. “This campaign strengthens our efforts to make Michigan the national leader in developing the talent employers are looking for, while providing our students with secure careers and high-paying jobs in growing and innovative industries in Michigan.”

The new videos are housed at http://www.mitalent.org/skilled-trades/along with information for parents, students and educators about how to find more information and hands-on experience with these careers.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the Diamond sponsor of this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference. Watch live streaming coverage of the conference from Detroit Public Television right here.

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Photo credit: Next TwentyEight

 

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