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By CNN Staff
updated 6:37 AM EDT, Wed October 8, 2014

This is an excerpt from an interview that Mike Rower did with CNN. To read the full interview click here.

CNN user RationalEyez asked:
“What needs to be looked at with unbiased attention is the overall issue of why people aren’t pursuing the skilled trades for themselves or their children anymore. If consistency in pay and benefits is a large part of the problem, then what specifically and practically can be done to begin to effect change in that respect?

Compensation and benefits matter a great deal, but with respect to the technical trades, they aren’t the fundamental barrier to recruitment. The bigger problems are stigmas, stereotypes, and misperceptions. I know what a motivated welder can make in his or her second year of work. I’ve seen dozens of tradesmen parlay their skill into a small business, and I’ve watched those businesses prosper.
But we don’t tell those stories. Instead, we’ve spent the last 40 years selling the idea that a four-year degree is the best path for the most people. Even now, when the vast majority of available jobs don’t require a diploma – we dismiss apprenticeships and training programs as “alternatives.”Mike Rowe interview with CNN

Alternatives to what, exactly?

Now we’ve got a skills gap, high unemployment, and a trillion dollars in outstanding student loans. We’re still lending money we don’t have to kids that can’t pay it back to educate them for jobs that don’t exist. Skilled labor and alternative education need to be fundamentally reinvigorated, and part of the solution is transformative PR.

Back in 1953, American’s were inveterate litterbugs. We threw our crap out of the car window with impunity, and didn’t think twice about the garbage we left on our highways. To change that behavior, we had to challenge the country’s underlying relationship with litter. It took years, but remember the weeping Indian from The Keep America Beautiful campaign? That actually worked. More to the point, the campaign itself arose from a consortium of government agencies, NGO’s, private business, and concerned citizens. Keep America Beautiful is still around today.

That’s the kind of PR I’m talking about. Something iconic and sustainable that can challenge the prevailing definition of a “good job.” Honestly, that’s part of the reason I’m at CNN. Assuming anyone watches my show, I’ll be in business with a partner who can actually help move the needle around this issue. (hint, hint.)


To read the full interview on click here.