One of the guys who originally inspired me to advocate on behalf of the blue collar workforce here in Texas, Mike Rowe, has come under fire lately because he's not afraid to spread the message about closing the skills gap in places that might not seem friendly to one side of the political spectrum or the other.  The latest attacks on Rowe came after he appeared on the conservative Glenn Beck program to talk about his recent campaign, Profoundly Disconnected.

After he was on Beck's show, a woman named Shannon Walsh wrote to Rowe: “How could you associate with such a horrible and psychotic person that is Glen Beck?  I wouldn't accept a dime off that hateful, nasty racist.  Very disappointed to see this post.”

Rowe's response to her was gracious, as was his response to another person who wrote to him after he was on the air with the liberal Bill Maher:

“Truth is, every time I go on Fox, my liberal friends squeal.  And every time I show up on MSNBC, my conservative pals whine.  Not because they disagree with my position – everyone agrees that closing the skills gap is something that needs to happen.   Read more » about A Skilled Workforce Should be Championed Wherever Possible

Last week celebrity Mike Rowe appeared on the television newsmagazine Inside Edition to promote his newest initiative: Profoundly Disconnected.  Mike Rowe is known as the host of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, and also for his efforts to promote careers in the skilled trades through his non-profit organization mikeroweWORKS.  The mikeroweWORKS Foundation supports careers in skilled trades through scholarships, community colleges and trade schools, and initiatives which recruit and support the industry.  Profoundly Disconnected is part of that effort to raise awareness as well as scholarship funding to advance young people in skilled trades.

This latest effort began when Rowe recalled seeing a poster when he was in high school which depicted a confident and happy young man wearing a graduation cap and gown while holding a diploma contrasted with a very dirty and dejected man wearing work coveralls while holding a wrench.  The caption on the poster read “Work Smart NOT Hard”.   The poster was obviously created as part of a college recruitment campaign; however, that kind of advice has led to the workforce crisis the United States is now facing.  Construction companies cannot find enough skilled craftsmen to complete the jobs they build, and thousands of college graduates face unemployment or underemployment just as their student loans are coming due.   Read more » about Profoundly Disconnected: Mike Rowe's Latest Campaign

Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, was the celebrity contestant on the television game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire today.  He will continue to play on tomorrow’s episode.

Like many game shows, from time to time Millionaire invites celebrities to come on the show and play for charities of their choice.  Rowe is playing for the non-profit he set up, the mikeroweWORKS Foundation.  The mission of the foundation is “to promote the skilled trades in areas of public awareness, reducing stigmas, education, career planning and job opportunities”.  Here is what Rowe says on his website about the reasons he started the foundation:

“I established this foundation to give something back, and challenge the prevailing definition of a ‘good job’.  For decades, we have put a premium on a four-year degree, and told an entire generation that Trade Schools and skilled labor are ‘alternatives’ to ‘higher education’.  That attitude is warping expectations, wrecking opportunity, and destroying our country.” Read more » about Mike Rowe Plays “Millionaire” for Skilled Trades Foundation

As a workforce development professional in the construction industry, I am always excited to hear about new initiatives that support the skilled trades.

In 2009, Senator Wendell Mitchell and Senator Del Marsh co-sponsored Act 220 in the Alabama legislature that resulted in the creation of the Alabama Construction Recruitment Institute.  The creation of the ACRI is significant for a couple of reasons.  It is funded through a fee levied on employers based on wages paid to skilled construction workers on commercial and industrial jobs across the state, and it represents a united effort from the private and public sector.

The ACRI’s Go Build Alabama campaign is a full out effort to inform and educate the citizens of Alabama about the opportunities for great careers in construction.  The campaign kicked off on Labor Day of 2010 and featured spokesperson Mike Rowe who is the creator, executive producer and host of the popular Discovery Channel series Dirty JobsThe Go Build Alabama website offers information on the industry outlook, profiles of the various trades, links to training and apprenticeship opportunities, and a sign up page where readers can get assistance in navigating entry into the construction industry. Read more » about Go Build Alabama Program Sets Example To Follow

You might know him from the Discovery channel program, Dirty Jobs or more recently as the spokesman for Ford on the Super Bowl ads, but did you know that Mike Rowe has a construction industry website meant to entertain and inform?  It is a creative way to see more of what the industry has to offer including 112 job profiles, videos of skilled tradesmen talking about their work, job listings and much more.  For example, in his introduction to the Work Is Not The Enemy section, he talks about the image of skilled labor and how the attitude toward those who make things in their jobs has changed. Read more » about Mike Rowe Construction Job Site