You probably know Mike Rowe as that guy from Dirty Jobs, or the voice from Ghost Hunters and Deadliest Catch. Few are aware of his more serious side as an advocate for skilled trades and farming. This month, Rowe testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, calling for a major national PR campaign to address the shortage of skilled labor:
For a full transcript of Rowe’s testimony, visit the Discovery Channel’s website.
Rowe cited vacancies in 200,000 positions in manufacturing, and 450,000 in trades, transportation and utilities. Vacancies are expected to grow as an aging workforce continues to retire over the next five to ten years. In response, Rowe has established his own organization, the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, dedicated to supporting the trades. In conjunction with the Discovery Channel, Rowe is also
launching the Discover Your Skills campaign to increase public awareness of the decline in our nation’s skilled labor force and to assist underserved populations in finding a career path.
Community colleges are the natural solution to address the skilled labor shortage.
This increase in public awareness will highlight the importance of MCC’s career-focused programming, such as the work of MCC’s Institute for Workforce Innovation (I.W.I). For the past two years, I.W.I has been doing exactly what Rowe has suggested to the Senate: addressing the skills gap in the workforce; promoting awareness at the local, state and national level; offering short-term training, licensures, and certifications in high-demand careers, including dirty jobs like welding, manufacturing, transportation, and logistics; and partnering with local and state workforce development agencies to assist students in making connections with employers.
I.W.I. takes it a step further by including wraparound services such as training in workplace “soft skills” and instruction in applied academic skills essential to workplace success. I.W.I also works directly with businesses to help them build the skills of their current employees to meet the increasing demands of the workplace.
As economic circumstances rapidly drive changes in postsecondary institutions’ accountabilities, MCC will continue to be at the forefront of quickly addressing the needs of the workforce, as well as changing public perception of what a postsecondary education ought to, and can be.