Saturday, April 8, 2017

Interesting Career Advice From Mike Rowe

Dirty Jobs host, Mike Rowe, really has a very interesting message which goes against the sacred cow notions of a 4 year college degree.  It is this.  As a country, we have glorified the value of a college degree which has put young people into $1 trillion in student debt loans and does not really leave them with much more employable skills than when they left high school.  Meanwhile, there are 3 million, good paying trade jobs that go unfilled because there are less and less people available with the skills to do them.  These jobs do not require a 4 year degree but do require some sort of meaningful skill training.  He calls this "The Skills Gap".

I realize I have to approach the subject cautiously, since Mike Rowe is backed by Caterpillar, Direct Energy and other corporate sponsors who know it is in their best interest to throw the best light they can on work that they desperately need labor for.  Mike Rowe is the lead recruiter and a very effective communicator. 

I would agree that are many myths about trade jobs or jobs labeled "blue collar".  If I were starting again, I would definitely learn a trade like welding, plumbing, Heating-Ventilation-Air conditioning (HVAC) or electrical wiring.  You go where the opportunity is and right now, opportunities are in the trades.  Why?  These jobs require work to be done that cannot be outsourced.  Opportunities to branch off and start your own business are there for those with that drive.  Americans love indoor plumbing, temperature controlled environments, smooth roads and electrical power.  There has to be someone who knows how to build, maintain and repair the infrastructure that provides everyone with what we take for granted.  You can pretty much relocate to any state and be in demand, assuming you are good at what you do and have a professional work ethic.  

It is supply and demand too.  High demand jobs with a small pool of skilled labor drives wages for that skill higher.  Likewise, low demand jobs with large pool of people drive wages lower.  Each year, more white collar type work is going away due to automation.  Even high prestige work like engineering can be outsourced to a low bid overseas worker via email, Solidworks and Skype.  I have often heard it said that white collars workers are "screwed" for future career opportunities.

Are students really learning anything of value anymore in college?  College professors need to "publish or perish" so they need to be involved in research where they are likely to become inaccessible to their students.  Meanwhile, students are taught by the professor's graduate assistants or adjunct part time professors.  Also, professors are now rated online by students which means the professors that are easy and less demanding will get the highest scores.  This is what a student pays $120,000 for and which is projected to double that amount in 5 to 10 years?  I cannot see this lasting for very much longer.  There is a need for education reform more than ever.

Education in a school building is one of the only industries where there has been ZERO productivity gains over the last 100 years.  A teacher teaches a class of students the same way they did 75 years ago yet gets paid more.  That does not make sense and it not sustainable. 

It comes back to this - enormous amounts of money is borrowed for students to go to college with no hope of paying it back so they get a degree for a job that no longer exists.  This is the "Skills Gap" Mike Rowe is talking about and and I agree we need to address the whole topic of education, training and skill building.

"Learn a skill, get really good at it and work your ass off" is sound career advice even if Mike Rowe is paid to say it.

Mike Rowe's message on not following your passion, but bringing your passion with you is worth a look:
Don't Follow Your Passion