Mike Rowe: American education system undervalues vocational skills

Updated Jul 18, 2013

Mike Rowe vocational trainingA big advocate for improving vocational training here in the U.S., ‘Dirty Jobs’ star Mike Rowe recently delivered a keynote at the Skills USA event in Kansas City.

Before delivering his address at the event, a national competition for high school and college students that puts their vocational skills to the test, Rowe sat down with TV station KMBC to explain why vocational training, a programs like Skills USA that promote it, are so important.

Rowe said the problem is that important “shovel-ready” job skills are largely ignored in the American education system.

“We ignore a whole list of educational opportunities. It’s the fact that there are about 3 million jobs available—right now, as we speak—that big companies are struggling to fill,” Rowe told the station. “So we’ve kind of created a trap for ourselves. A progress trap, really.”

Rowe feels the reason for ignoring these skills is that for a few generations now, the jobs themselves have been devalued in favor of steering the country’s youth toward earning a four-year degree from a college or university.

You can watch KMBC’s full interview with Rowe and one of the students competing in the Skills USA competition over at KMBC.