Mike Rowe on diplomas vs. dirty jobs

“If we are lending money that ostensibly we don’t have to kids who have no hope of making it back in order to train them for jobs that clearly don’t exist, I might suggest that we’ve gone around the bend a little bit,” says TV personality Mike Rowe. Rowe is the longtime host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, where he takes on gigs straight out of Bob Dylan songs: working on fishing boats, sewer systems, oil derricks, slaughterhouses, and more.

“There is a real disconnect in the way that we educate vis-a-vis the opportunities that are available,” he adds. “You have right now about 3 million jobs in transportation, commerce, and trades that can’t be filled.”

Rowe, who once sang for the Baltimore Opera and worked as an on-air pitchman for the shopping channel QVC, worries that traditional K-12 education demonizes good-paying, in-demand blue-collar fields while insisting instead that everyone get a college degree. Between the mikeroweWORKS Foundation and Profoundly Disconnected, a venture between Rowe and the heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, the TV personality is hoping both to help people find new careers and to publicize what he calls “the diploma dilemma.”