Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame wrote an open letter to Mitt Romney. It wasn’t a political letter per se, but parts of it really resonated.
Today, we can see the consequences of this disconnect in any number of areas, but none is more obvious than the growing skills gap. Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.” Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there was something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)
…Certainly, we need more jobs, and you were clear about that in Tampa. But the Skills Gap proves that we need something else too. We need people who see opportunity where opportunity exists. We need enthusiasm for careers that have been overlooked and underappreciated by society at large. We need to have a really big national conversation about what we value in the workforce, and if I can be of help to you in that regard, I am at your service – assuming of course, you find yourself in a new address early next year.
While I’d generally recommend that people go to college for four years, not everyone can or should. In a land of opportunity like America, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be poor either as long as you have a work ethic and are smart about it.
Even here, where people don’t make the same sort of crazy money they do in New York or San Francisco, there are a lot of jobs where people can make great money with a limited education. In my area, there are maids making $50 an hour and masseuses making $75. There are restaurant owners, plumbers, mechanics, and farmers and farmers making good money, too. I even have relatives making more money than I thought was possible cutting hair.
The questions is; How far are you willing to go succeed? If you’re not willing to move, if you’re not willing to travel, if you’re not willing to intern, if you’re not willing to do jobs that are “tough,” you’re not willing to work more than 40 hours, and you’re not willing to do much more than just send resumes in to whatever jobs you find in the “Help Wanted” section, you may not get very far. But today, even in this crummy economy, even for people without college degrees, there are real opportunities available for people who’re willing to go the extra mile.
There’s nothing shameful about paying the bills with any honest job and Mike Rowe is right; Not every good job requires you to spend four years in college.