It’s about making work functional for both employer and employee, not matter your field, your vocational talent, conventional or unconventional skill, skill set; it’s about us, society deciding what’s more important, our biased, antiquated views on work or a system where everyone who both can and desires to participates.
Never the less that was Mike Rowe on Fox News post testifying this spring to capitol hill on the student loan crisis, the skills gap and vocational opportunities in high school saying in essence you have to make work, physical labor encompassed in plumbing, construction, brick laying, exc. cool again; alleging kids very quickly catch on to what’s acceptable according to society, their parents, of course tying his observations into the student debt crisis— kids not cut out for college borrowing huge sums to drop out, get unusable degrees— while jobs in skilled trades go begging, employers can’t find workers, can’t offer high enough wages. Further inexplicable to Rowe, we have according to him, removed vocational training from high schools eliminating that avenue for kids to our own national, societal detriment of people ‘addicted’ to smooth roads, indoor plumbing things like that, but is he correct? Remembering this is the same Mike Rowe as mentioned in the Fox News piece of the show Dirty Jobs, Somebody’s Gotta Do It, better known these days for adhering to the Bill Maher, Dennis Miller school of thought mocking occupy Wall Street, spouting ‘we can’t all be the one drawing on the cave wall, ‘we need people who do something’ mocking liberal, entertainment, animation and standard art degrees. Mike Rowe who would probably wholeheartedly agree with the final judgement given to a cop suing a local Starbucks for the major burn on his leg costing him time off work, very literal and legitimate pain and suffering; without ever realizing both his purpose in suing wasn’t his too late comprehension coffee is hot, deficient intelligence robbing him of that conclusion earlier and that the whole situation could have been avoided if they switched from a 5 cents to make cup to a 10 cents to make cup, from a 2 cent lid to a 5 cent lid that, side effect fit properly, neither collapsed or boke, to quote Homer Simpson: DOH! Mike Rowe who has an odd bias toward blue collar work, a genuine desire for that kind of work he was steered away from in his youth. Yet an odd bias all the same coloring everything from his view, understanding of why students today shy away from it, to why their parents will do almost anything to steer them away from work they, themselves supported a family on. Sentiments blinding him to those up and coming persons who are proud to be a 3rd, 4th or 5th generation laborer in whatever industry, contributing factors vastly changing the landscape of employment, how manufacturing, pipe fitting, welding, engineering jobs are done, skills mandated to be successful in them. Mike Rowe who tried to explain Trump’s election by contrasting the white working class, rural voters to hedge fund managers making the papers, news for raking in millions while not completely buying his promise to bring back manufacturing jobs as he campaigned; saying to Fox News at the time looking back didn’t make sense to him, his philosophy was looking forward enter: comments on skilled trades and industries so desperate for workers trained individuals can write their own tickets. Mike Rowe who told students last year, in what was supposed to be a commencement speech, for a dubious university, not to follow their passion in seeking employment and that a degree didn’t mean ticket to your dream job instead admonishing students to follow, opportunity predictably in a skilled trade; independent if you achieve master or PHD levels in almost any field you too can write your own ticket or do what higher level English and history majors always intended to do, teach. His sentiments tracking right along with author Nicholas Wyman who advised college kids not to go to college for career advice, as if they ever were in the first place; apparently confusing the self-exportation often done in college, exposure to new, bigger and better things as a scapegoat for ‘going to college to get career advice,’ AKA without a purpose, consequence wasting huge sums of money. Part of a cluster of graduation season advice going back years telling young graduates wherever they are in their educational process not to depend on the myth of the college dropout ruling the world flukes like Zuckerberg being the exception not the rule, expressing the title of a PBS YouTube video ‘So You Have a Liberal Arts Degree and Expect a Job;’ begging the question, have any of these people writing books, doling out cometary sat down and talked to students lately, made any effort to get inside their heads, ask more than superficial questions about what they think, how they came to the conclusions you think they hold? Conspicuously absent is any anecdotal evidence Rowe has encountered young people who say they would love to be a pipe fitter, welder, journeyman, mechanic, but my parents want me to… I’m good with my hands but went to college because everyone else did, don’t know where to put that skill unless it’s in computer repair, I couldn’t find a class/training program for the skilled trade I wanted so settled for plan B. Refreshing even his blatantly flagging memory some of America’s greatest achievements going back to the industrial revolution, the transcendental railroad, WWII and FDR’s alphabet agencies meant to get us, our nation back to work were built by no shortage of abused immigrants toiling away for crap wages, black persons always having been second class citizens greatly undermining his implications about young people, wussification, middle- classers not ready for shovel ready jobs. Or that no, Neil deGrasse Tyson former math and science majors correlated into the nuts and bolts of work with your hands jobs, building the tools, machines, computers in those machines used, don’t rotate out suddenly becoming English due to humanity’s long list of shortcomings, natural inclination to avoid hard things, speculated ill-preparedness they come in with traced to lagging k-12 education starkly apparent in high school; they do so thanks to the long hours of out of class work, labs, extemporaneous things expected of them piled atop block classes, studying and homework spread across all their classes, not just their major. They aren’t getting the bang for their effort, if not their buck, bang easily calculated in the latter classes; second alterative, maybe they quickly discovered they weren’t skilled in math or science, as skilled as they thought they were, went into because someone told them too, enticed by chances at a good job. Inherently doing better in English classes changing for those reasons; never mind math and/or science majors who choose something other than math, science, English altogether, oh. Rowe again specifically, independently oblivious to droves of students who change their post-graduation employment plans directly due to the amount of debt incurred, responsibilities acquired, where students end up finally landing in the job market regardless their original degree, additional training sought upon facing tough employment prospects. Those who might transfer to a tech or trade school once understanding options there, finding a ‘passion,’ when did we start treating that as a dirty word in the context of something you love to do, for the technical side of manufacturing, igniting the helping nature of today’s graduates who don’t mind getting their hands dirty unto a tangible purpose they can see helps a community, individual, does not become a meaningless daily grind. Those already majoring in a practical college field such as education, accounting, social work, garnering certifications as medical office assistants or lower level medical field designations nursing, dental assistant, dental hygienist, CNA (certified nursing assistant), home health aide; especially considering our rapidly retiring, aging baby boomer populations, the 1-88 boys being diagnosed on the autism spectrum, 1in 68 children crossing gender lines who are, soon will be, aging out of children’s, school support, independent living preparation services leaving parents and caregivers scrambling for continued versions of listed assistance on the adult scale, autism spectrum and developmentally delayed individuals who need group home, assisted living facilities and thus staff to run them, organizers of non-profits, community centers, outreach programs, the few and far between businesses willing to hire those with intellectual, developmental disabilities like autism, Downs Syndrome, who can also be designated people/jobs that ‘do something.’ Never mind people with those disorders, disabilities and more that have things they can and wish to contribute if we would only let them. High school graduates, post-secondary education seekers who do show interest in local industry throughout pockets of the country, rust belt states, technical towns thriving on skilled trades, engineering, H/VAC, construction, mechanics, factory work, not to leave out students who took advantage of high school cooking classes, child development courses who will need post-secondary training to work in a diner, basic food safety courses at minimum, forget culinary school to land a job at a high end hotel, dietary in a hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility, group home. Daycare workers, early childhood development specialists now necessitate a certification, a credentialing process of some sort most likely a degree to maximize both career mobility and earning potential, suddenly, dismissively don’t count. Why aspiring ‘do something’ career persons need highlighted certifications, classes, certificates and degrees would be a much more interesting and enlightening story to delve into, employers who quickly decided they were no longer responsible for job training, leave it to higher education; employers who shed internships and apprenticeships maintaining their high experience expectations to grant applicants a job could have a lot to do with it. Translating into a better complete picture of what is fueling the labor shortages profiled on the news, prompting him to draft letters to the president, testify before congress than pontificating, pronouncing just elevating do something, manual labor, ‘dirty,’ unsung jobs will solve ‘the skills gap,’ and simultaneously resolve unemployment numbers too. Rowe’s comments, next to whimsical thinking seems especially ill-timed when students are pushing back against the republican anti-intellectualism becoming dangerous, protesting commencement speeches by vice president Mike Pence and proved incompetent education secretary Betsy DeVos, worried about their educational futures, education for their siblings, foundations of knowledge, creativity and innovation in light of spending cuts, privatization, charter school pushes, voucher systems federal monies to Pell grants, scholarship programs; anxieties related to student loan debt, access to loans to attend whatever kind of schooling to get whatever kind of job, finding the training whatever their vocational pursuits. So in honor of 2017’s graduation season and the potential we could be wasting here is an in-depth look at Rowe’s concepts on American work, workers and how none of what he says truly works.
Oh where to begin deconstructing his ignorance laden misconceptions, ones guesses it’s to say country wide STEM (science technology engineering and math) initiatives routinely overlapping traditional skilled trades aside no, we haven’t removed vocational training from high schools, wholly, completely or nationally; better classifying what schools have done, they have removed it in parts of the country where it is, by and large not used, major metropolitan economies much more dependent on other industries, hardly without individuals in all the trades Rowe mentioned and added ones to boot, just less so, based on need. This is fairly routine on the high school to colligate level, if a course only has a maximum 5-10 interested, enrolled students, proportioned to the size of the school, the larger the more likely to be cut, particularly college institutions; said course(s) will be cancelled because they cannot justify the cost of the professor, facts multiplied exponentially in k-12 public education. Independent if that’s general shop class or vilified ‘lesbian dance theory,’ ‘Peruvian bongo drums,’ a course in quote: of all things Beyoncé; classes with repeated low enrollment 2-5 years straight will be dropped to bring in new opportunities in both popular and in demand instruction, the way it’s always been. Proof positive vo-tech is neither dead nor dying my high school alma mater in the Midwest hasn’t scrapped skilled trade prep in the least, the exact opposite, both expanding and adapting it to changing needs and times, creating more advanced block classes, direct lines to internships on school time if/once a student completes prep course X, reaches a certain level; H/VAC and construction equally popular with youth programs and vocational training seekers post college, engaging in retaining, jobs beyond minimum wage. I don’t fit well into my local economy because I’m neither good with these industrial trades or the helping/healthcare professions; leaving me virtually opportunity-less. Same regional area, take the McCaughey septuplets who reached a milestone times 7 graduating high school last graduation season, among them 2 hopeful computer science majors, 2 future teachers to be, one about to be military man, a music major, and 1 of the 2 staying home as opposed to utilizing the offered Hannibal Missouri scholarship studying what, construction; no coincidence either they are from Iowa. Even if Rowe were marginally right it wouldn’t impact where we are at present because, no matter how extensive high school courses, accompanying internships that rarely are long enough to encompass the full scope of jobs or satisfy employer experience requirements, students would still need continued instruction at a vo-tech school teaching advanced skills, certifying abilities, funneling graduates into the workforce; without it there would be left only another facet of employer complaining high school programs that aren’t good enough, expansive enough, teaching the right skills. Further rendering his assertions on high school instruction irrelevant, vo-tech has its place on the post-secondary circuit just like colleges, technical institutions provide classes, certifications and where appropriate ‘degrees’ in the very skilled trade aspects he’s talking about, a tech institution in nearly every state; many also present in local community colleges serving the same purpose singular possible exception, tiny rural areas or urban blight effected schools where there isn’t a shop teacher due to being unable to afford one, yet that has to do with the dollars and cents of simple math not Washington lobbying, the ‘national push to say this is the best path for the most people’ unto success and pulling back the curtain on 4 year college degrees. You also won’t see a trigonometry, advanced science teacher in aforementioned areas for the same lack of both funds and interest, local economies that just don’t support it. Other factors drastically effecting where students nationally, on the bigger macro-scale, get a job, what career they ultimately land in has nothing to do with positions parents, mentors, school officials, demonized by the coinsure of ‘dirty jobs’ repeatedly, guidance counselors think is ‘cool’ or the converse ‘uncool’ translating into totally unacceptable for my kid. Though, regular readers remember this one, multitudes believe parents who’ve ruined their joints by 55 after 30 years of jackhammering, ruined their knees via 30 years navigating an 18 wheeler, 30 years plumbing, crawling through sewer systems, multiple tight spaces for work, chasing various types of farm animals, 30 years on a bobcat giving them sciatica, injured on fishing, deep sea drilling oil rigs (think deep water horizon, oh) forcing them on disability long before the benchmarked 65 while the government keeps hiking up the retirement age incrementally pointing to longer lifespans and medical advancements evolving into a better quality of life they just don’t see, can be forgiven wanting better, different options for their kids, pushing their kids toward anything far from what they do daily, less grueling, catastrophic on the body. And, catch a clue Mr. Rowe parents do ‘dirty,’ ‘someone’s gotta do it’ level jobs to give their kids the opportunities they didn’t have, precisely so their kids won’t end up doing the exact same thing in the exact same horrible physical shape, battling the same chronic pain, facing marginally successful joint replacement surgeries, abysmal job retraining options to eat. See Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks response talking about a kid he mentors who aspires to be a truck driver; he has no problem with this as a goal, merely wishes the young man would dream bigger, wants him to know all his options then make the best choice for him. Similarly we don’t have crumbling infrastructure systems because there is a massive shortage of people to perform the work regardless what the numbers are telling us, Rowe’s theory kids of the past generation right up to the current one got psyched out said solid jobs due to ‘degree pushers’ calling college higher education and skilled trades, vo-tech, tech institutions alternative education developing a sigma personified in ‘if you couldn’t/can’t hack the other one; preposterous bullshit putting too much weight on what he believes guidance counselors are telling kids, precious little it might be added, and emphasis on parents’ wants kids are wired at that age to ignore anyway. We have a D+ graded infrastructure causing a domino effect of problems whether it’s tragic train derailments, subway/commuter train delays caused by crashes, mechanical failures and old underground structures directly because the federal government won’t release funds for upgrades and replacements, state and local governments don’t have it, won’t use if for that if they have monies to do the slightest incremental repairs, the true story behind our nation of potholes, rotting and collapsing bridges. Or their shady attempts to privatize aforementioned work to corporations/private contractors, think what Backwater did in Iraq when they were supposed to be rebuilding, getting rich while infrastructure doesn’t improve, improve enough to make a difference. Flint’s water crisis, subsequently found pockets indicating high lead levels in city tap/drinking water isn’t for want of pipe fitters, welders, pipe makers, machinists working together to make it happen, instead bluntly about a lack of political will to ensure the safety of our nations drinking water; Flint switched over to the dirtier water source sans chemical treatment neutralizing known lead in the water/pipes to save a few bucks. Older buildings, disproportionately public housing, subsidized section 8 housing are potentially lined with interior/exterior lead paint; one such complex in Mike Pence’s Indiana no less, built on the site of a lead industrial plant in years past sans adequate testing to ensure soil safety; because, we don’t have the political will of elected officials to remove all the lead from existing buildings, care enough about citizens, both current and future workers, to allot enough to public housing proper for adequate lead removal, vouchers for subsidized housing keeping up with rental costs so recipients don’t have to live in a dilapidated house, apartment, a dump that’s potentially toxic. Rather than the easily dismantled Rowe doctrine, diagnosis of what’s wrong with the American employment system current ‘job outlook deficiencies’ are indiscriminately tied to businesses, employers desperate for employees having, readers hearing this before too, done an abysmal job of saying to students these are jobs for which you can get paid money, earn a solid paycheck. Here are some job titles you’ve probably never heard of and explaining what that means in plain English not industry, career field jargon; now, here are the natural skills needed to fulfill them dexterity, good with your hands, attention to detail, methodical, here are the academics you need, where all that math and science being pushed at you can and will be applied. Whether you’re talking about cushy ‘millennial jobs’ older persons are incredulous people get paid for doing period, think are stupid or the ‘work with your hands’ jobs, farming jobs dwindling in certain communities; most math teachers, good ones who know their subject, can teach it well, would be understandably flabbergasted at the first link after the next paragraph detailing the trigonometry needed for a standard factory position, a problem not solved by making work cool again. Proposing a viable solution to unsung jobs standing unfilled, when was the last time that Wisconsin dairy farmer talking about hiring immigrants because they are the people he can get to do the work went into his local high school and offered to give a talk, walked into a classroom and said who here knows college is not for them, watching whose hands go up, who sits up a little straighter, makes eye contact, if there is some kind of stigma between them and their peers, continued by asking who here knows they want to stay local after school, anyone here like animals, large animals like cows and laid out what working at his farm is like? When was the last time he offered an internship, summer volunteer opportunity to give him workers and test the aptitude of the coming generation, offering the best ones a job? When was the last time you Mr. Rowe or anyone saw any of these companies supposedly housing a nationwide total of 6 million available but unfilled jobs, jobs we would be able to recognize, approach a middle, high school, community college, trade or tech post-secondary institution to talk about skills needed for in demand, high paying jobs locally or cross country; when was the last time they were seen working with their local high school, community college entities to design degree, certification, training programs resulting in the workers they are pleading for? It’s Rowe’s own ignorance about the skills required to do these jobs, the programming, engineering degrees now mandated while decrying students going to college, personified in the G.E. commercial featuring the young programmer telling his parents he got a job at G.E. them gifting him grandpa’s old hammer elated about where their son got a job, clueless as to what he does, but it’s all about making manual labor, things you do with your hands, jobs that leave you sweaty, dirty an exhausted cool again. Not about the widening gulf between workers and existing jobs made worse by employers keeping job criteria under the heading top secret, the few community retraining options for workers needing lower octane jobs post 30 years of manual labor’s toll on their body, looking to do what politicians, old school persons like Rowe repeatedly demand they do if they want better pay, get skilled, lift themselves above minimum wage being haphazard, incomplete or utterly non-existent; yet talking only about opportunity and training are tilting and windmills ‘whatever futile metaphor suites you’, not from where we’re sitting buster. Where schools can improve is firstly putting elective courses on a pass/fail system where students can explore a class, potential vocation without worrying about dragging down their GPA, ruining their chances at college, standing for scholarships; the last few videos trailing the next paragraph house students who didn’t know they had hands on skill until attending an aviation track high school designed by an airplane making CEO. Actual guidance and aptitude testing provided by aptly named guidance counselors, not to force them into an educational track like other countries, like pockets of U.S. schools were justifiably deaminized for doing ultimately shoving poorer, ‘less academically capable’ kids into then dangerous menial manual labor; on the contrary, for students who haven’t decided what they want to do with their life, don’t really know what their skills are, what they are good, excel at, how they can parlay that into a job. Arranging job shadowing, take a kid, not just yours to work day, community recreational scenarios both for kids still decided and those with unique interests best served outside school. For those who have a desired direction, making sure they fully understand requirements, certifications, degrees, certificates, experience needed in post-secondary education and beyond to be successful, paring them with community entities so they can here it straight from the horse’s mouth, see the job in action, speak with a holder of that job, set up future internship, forge the contacts needed to garner a job once achieving their credentials; things the employment sector has to be open to and right now is not. Post-secondary schools can begin off the bat not offering degrees, courses of study that do not have a corresponding local community avenue for an internship, apprenticeship, lab space to get additional experience, hands on, practical manipulation of tools exc.; things that would have helped the biology major below shuffled into administrative assistant work, next stop dental school, because his boss has an in at a dental school. My own college town major university where you had to go out of state to finish credentials to become an architect and go out of town, if not state to get a forensic science internship keeping one of my graduating classmates at her electrical processing plant job; at minimum ensuring those majoring students know and have plans in place to relocate upon completion of degree instead of being met with a nasty surprise post-graduation. To achieve listed markers, school career services departments advertising to students who they are, what they do, meeting with individual students periodically and endeavoring to correctly connect them with local, permanent state where they choose to launch their career, resources; hey larger institutions, you meet to accept/reject applications, conduct student interviews determining, in no small part, who to accept or reject, you can and should be obligated to do it, especially for this.
Where we’ve gone horribly wrong, beyond the extraordinarily specific job skill subsets within traditional general skilled trades/engineering, welding, pipe fitting, plumbing, bricklaying, machinists, industrial machine maintenance and repair, exc., workers holding those jobs past or present immediately highlighting don’t translate well into broader umbrella manufacturing or skilled trade jobs, often necessitating retraining when switching jobs, is where we’ve always gone wrong for the last 45 plus years. America’s projected 6 million jobs job gap encompassing every region has far less to do with skills and everything more to do with dissemination of information, hiring practices and bias against the very workers they need; starting with are the jobs listed even available or are they doing as some applicants have speculated listing jobs just to see what skills are out there. Vacant positions listed in local papers, businesses with now hiring signs, postings on local job boards sitting there month after month, relisted every few weeks; is it that the jobs are indeed available but thanks to state budgets cuts, city planning trimming, a slow, stagnating economy they aren’t being filled due to lack of funds to do so? All manual labor, skilled trade jobs mirroring maneuverings behind Flint’s water problem, city and state governments could be their biggest employers yet aren’t; nationwide another unspoken do something job, public defender ‘goes begging’ to quote Rowe because the state of Missouri refused to provide funds to hire additional personnel circa 2008 forcing them to deny misdemeanor offenders representation on cases unlikely to land jail time, last year the governor told to represent one poor client he was so callously willing to bar from a public defense by being a tightwad. Topeka Kansas decriminalized domestic violence circa 2011 for want of funds to prosecute abusers; while experts were saying there were too many law schools who had produced too many lawyers for years. One working as a barista and part time law clerk, another working as a server and suing his law school for falsely representing employment prospects, employment data; real tragedy, he wanted to work in legal aid, a place always needing lawyers to help poor, disenfranchised persons disproportionately targeted by the justice system. Shamefully New York has judges sitting on the bench, presiding over cases who don’t hold law degrees, mystifying is how that’s possible even adjusting perspective to understand small town court rooms, tiny townships; why it’s such a big deal (in light of popular shows like Suits, which at least housed a legal prodigy who could pass the bar sans a degree, expediently test out of courses to obtain his degree if he chose) isn’t limited to the staggering misconduct by judges egregious enough it would mean firing from any job let alone something as important as a judgeship, ultimately expelling them from the bench. It’s their totally lacking comprehension of basic legal principles, lack of jury boxes, an actual judges bench, ‘official proceedings’ held in office buildings, basement rooms, witnesses not sworn to hell the truth, no verbatim recording of testimony. “But serious things happen in these little rooms all over New York State. People have been sent to jail without a guilty plea or a trial, or tossed from their homes without a proper proceeding. In violation of the law, defendants have been refused lawyers, or sentenced to weeks in jail because they cannot pay a fine. Frightened women have been denied protection from abuse. The examination found overwhelming evidence that decade after decade and up to this day, people have often been denied fundamental legal rights. Defendants have been jailed illegally. Others have been subjected to racial and sexual bigotry so explicit it seems to come from some other place and time. People have been denied the right to a trial, an impartial judge and the presumption of innocence…” [Sic] And there are too many lawyers, though perhaps it does explain the bizarre rulings coming out of court rooms today, slaps on the wrist and diversionary programs for rapists, ignorant justifications offered for why what happened wasn’t rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual harassment. Assuming advertised positions are legitimately open, is what’s described by the following comment par for the course at your business; “It is more likely that the employers’ expectations of the potential applicant(s)’s skills is beyond what is required for the position, that results in NOT FILLING THE POSITION! hmm… “common sense” would say the employer is going about hiring the wrong way! Now onto the retail (LIES) part of the story you fill out the application online and show up at the location to show you are motivated to work for the applied position and the hiring manager has no idea who you are and what you applied to such and such position which hasn’t been filled for months (because of unrealistic requirement expectations and the evaluation filtering software thinks you are not qualified for any employment position). People are applying it is just that the employer’s screening of applicants with software is not letting anyone through to the desk of the HR department;” [Sic] if it is good luck drawing workers to you. Employers today fixated on how your ‘old’ Yahoo, Hotmail email address means you’re not technologically astute enough for the job, what negative message your photo lacking LinkedIn profile is sending employers; tip for that perfect LinkedIn photo don a pair of glasses it tricks viewers into finding you more professional, mimic method actors making sure there’s something related to the job in the picture. Endless résumé advice, a constant revolving door of do’s, don’t, cliché phrases to avoid; alternative providing examples of how you cut costs, improved sales figures exc., shutting out people in janitorial, reception work, anyone whose biggest selling point is they came to work consistently and constantly did their unglamorous job well. What they provided their employer, apart from a consistent worker, was a lack of hassle forced to hire someone else; as opposed to having a uniform résumé format at most varying by field of employment, a uniform transitional format for résumés of persons changing fields so applicants are not being docked points for meaningless aesthetics. Applicant seekers, businesses bemoaning sparse workforces, worker choice too enamored by outcomes produced from amateur psycho analysis of handwriting, what can be read into your walking gate, condition of your teeth, whether or not you wear glasses, wear a watch (it makes you seem punctual, organized caring of others time); swallowing valuable interview time, passing over potentially very talented, capable persons doling out ‘snowflake tests,’ the latest variation on asking silly questions what space alien/animal you are to determine personality, if you fit the work culture rather than investing in job scenario questions, paring answers to experience listed on their résumé, deciding who of those individuals had the best answers and hiring them. Flagrant abuse and misuse of Skype, Facetime, video chat services interviews as a window into an applicant’s home, routinely their bedroom, to make otherwise unattainable value judgments about crooked pictures, Victoria Secret posters, book titles on a bookshelf; just the latest in trends of finding increasingly petty reasons not to hire a worker. Taking a big gamble they even have access to fundamental hardware moving the interviewing technique outside tech, computer jobs; plunging neck in neck with using Equifax and Spokeo to ascertain credit scores, personal data employers shouldn’t have access to specifically age and relationship status, 2 things barred from job applications for a reason. Worse, Equifax lost a multi mullion dollar lawsuit for failure to correct serious errors on a woman’s credit report despite her repeated attempts and filling out reams of paperwork; an estimated 1-4 reports containing significant errors incorrect birth dates, social security numbers, and that was roughly 5 years ago. Where are you placing your want-ad, your job opening, older workers probably aren’t perusing the internet for employment, if they are they certainly aren’t using professional job boards, exclusive websites; skilled tradesmen not looking to uproot, relocate across the country, to a different city, town, state are most likely networking where they live, connecting with friends, family, work associates to land a gig, visiting the local employment agency. If you don’t then have a sign plumbers needed, ads in your city, town paper, postings at the employment agency, don’t use word of mouth, you’re missing out; i.e. in Larimer county Colorado. Employers who themselves haven’t drilled down to what exactly they must get from a job applicant thus crafting job ads including everything but the kitchen sink, too vague, too specific, expecting employees with these highly specialized, exclusive skills to come to them gift wrapped, or worse touting years upon years experience with no avenues to gain said experience, certainly not with the employer they’re standing in from of; a situation exacerbated by the fact average age in these industries currently stands at 45-50 plus years old while the young up and comings you want to hire thinking they won’t use their benefits, forget retire with you, perhaps not even get married while in your employ couldn’t possibly possess what you are looking for. To that end forget vo-tech’s presence in high school, absence thereof, and let’s talk about employers continued fundamental misunderstanding of what achieving a college degree, trade school certificate, certification means; translation in their minds, I don’t have to train a worker, I can show them their workspace, give them tasks, not have to see them again until the task is done or I need something else from them. Wrong, in actuality a degree/certificate means said holder has been given foundations in whatever field and is now ready for the practical, hands on, job experience portion of their training; training always previously provided by the employers in those fields as a point of fact. Next let’s stop beating around the bush about employers who have summarily done away with the internship, apprenticeship across all fields in the employment sector, even to a significant extent skilled trades; skilled trades producing students who will still need real working world experience and time to hone their skills to equal persons on the job 5, 15, 25 years. Hardly to be dismissed, employers unduly let off the hook, worth chastising them about also is their complete abdication of any job training at all, rudimentary basics they are many times legally mandated by law to give regardless experience level, past job experience they not only don’t, but blatantly refuse; their habit of hiring individuals off the street with no prior experience and no training fully expecting the employee learn by osmosis, observation, as a last resort ask similarly poorly trained co-workers how to do task X. Example, young man looking for a job, applies to an auto parts distributer is hired his responsibility, going around to local auto-parts stores ensuing they have the inventory they need; except he had no clue how to do that, differentiate parts, facts known to the employer upon hire, based on application materials, résumé finally fessing up to his boss how lost he was. Supposed jobs like described below failing to provide essentials a-la ticket free parking, “DAVID veilleux Amen to that! I’ve worked countless retail and service jobs over the last two decades and during that time nearly every place I worked refused to provide the basic essential of PARKING…meaning that tickets/meters/and monthly lot fees could have one breaking even some months. And low wage jobs are often physically grueling, so they will “break” the worker and then spit em’ out with ZERO healthcare to boot! Why Americans hate Socialism I’ll never understand because quality of life wouldn’t have to be this bad if we didn’t let the super rich to continuously hoard EVERYTHING.” Related things employers resist providing, insist workers previously possess— mandated uniforms, steel toed boots, specialty shoes; retail giant Wal-Mart got into public hot water a while back in instituting a uniform change expecting employees to pick up the tab. Management structures so packed with duties nowhere in that description is checking employee work quality, managing day to day things involving employees, giving a solid foundation in whatever the job is. Alluded to in the introduction was the interesting why everything had gone to a class, everything has gone to a class, certification, certificate or degree, less because the colligate money making machine and Washington lobby made it so and more due to employers expecting their applicants to come in with those skills, experience under their belt, believing it the responsibility of the higher educational institution excluding any corresponding internship cooperation to reach that goal; and, when that drastically turned out not to be the case, they couldn’t get all they wanted including the preverbal kitchen sink, then came the job listings demanding both degree and experience creating much of the catch 22 new grads find themselves in, but all we need to do is make work, as defined by Rowe, cool again. One of the reasons we’re combating drunk, horrible driving record school bus drivers, a shortage of yet another do something job is A- partly because there is no one telling students who might be motivated to try desiring to help how to get the driving classification to do so; B- due to pay scale issues bus drivers shifted onto unemployment during summer months putting them at best in a salaried position, no opportunity for overtime, pay garnered from taking a sick workers shift equaling extra money, probably forcing them to get a part time summer job. Echoing traditional cab companies not merely facing stiff completion from ride share entities like Uber and Lyft, but if they take on county resource contracts transporting physically disabled, developmentally delayed persons to work, school, designated enrichment activities, medical transport contracts shuffling Medicaid recipients to dialysis, chemo, counseling appointments they are limited to pay by the month while drivers depend on nightly, weekly earnings to pay bills, buy groceries, furnish their kids shoes, school supplies; making it an unattractive working field. Recurring theme exorbitant expectations, city bus drivers who must pass a physical; any driver on insulin to manage diabetes cannot continue driving, though the lion’s share are type 2’s less prone to blood sugar spikes leaving them passed out behind the wheel, suffering blurred vison, arguably in better health for managing their disease, not seen that way by employers, legislators, ironically while a pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and medical incidents unrelated to above cost lives, do untold dollars in damages, go figure. Paralleling the above asking when was the last time businesses wanting employees went into an educational institution and spoke, when was the last time companies like GE in Erie Pennsylvania took the highest aptitude workers/job applicants, (because the middle age worker has a point, you want the degrees but you have provided no means for experienced workers, been doing it for years, to get newer skills) and sent them to school, crafted programs only teaching the math and science, engineering skills for the job, the field not a 4 year degree, not a years long certification process? Contrast their mindset to the CEO paying for all his full time workers’ children to attend college irregardless where they choose to go to school, what the intend to major in because he knows what it’s like to watch a parent get by on minimum wage, knows what it’s like for higher education to be a dream and actively seeks to pay it forward. Contrast the G.E. standard approach to employers who have taken it upon themselves creating their own training programs, work in tandem with local community colleges, take the step to pay for a young workers’ college education that will advance them in the job they already had during high school, they are met with overwhelming success and experience, no shortage of workers, interested candidates, applicants; chief reasons Jamie Dimon’s aerospace high school and IBM’s fast track high school melding diplomas and associates degrees plus an internship at IBM remains so successful is directly owing to they are teaching up to the minute skills coupled with hands on internships. Conversely, universities, tech and trade schools can’t keep current if employers insist on keeping silent, being absent from the conversation, talks to aforementioned institutions, simultaneously complaining to any news outlet, labor study complier they can’t find workers; have eliminated and continue rebuffing the internship, apprenticeship, don’t know what to do with them when they have them, regularly giving them coffee fetching, filing busy work unrelated to the job, (to the point their next employer is saying I need to know if you got coffee or did actual work) shunting them away from true experience.
Adjacently America, society, teachers, guidance counselors, mentors, job coaches must strive to reorient existing, isolated up and coming workers expectations, employer expectations round 2; many of the people in ‘Trumpland’ rustbelt states, former, current manufacturing hubs housing those who excel at construction, bricklaying, drywall, plumbing, pipefitting, welding, machinist, mechanic exc., several kinds of factory work are quite frankly living in a 1980’s or earlier time warp. Why did the younger of 2 men featured in the Carrier update announcing jobs still going overseas, down to Mexico despite president Trump’s previous efforts think he would be able to retire at Carrier at his age of no more than 40; why does the 38 year old profiled in the obstacles to the American dream piece think at 38, taking a factory job just out of high school, he would retire in that field, be guaranteed a job all his working life? Mindsets dying latest, at the turn of the 21st century starting with the year 2000; trends any employment forecaster or person with eyes could conclude in the early, mid 90’s. 3rd case in point, you live in Williamson West Virginia and all you’ve wanted to be all your short life is a coal miner, yes there’s an argument for exposing people to job opportunities, young people to career fields especially in a place caught in an obvious time capsule, looking for all the world like the set of Steven Spielberg’s Goonies; immediate question jumping out is where are/were the city managers, city, state chambers of commerce bringing new business prospects in and why does it seem they’ve been asleep since the Carter administration, arguably when local establishments got a new coat of paint? Then again strapping 20-year-old, you own at TV don’t you, heard about Trump from TV didn’t you, don’t you ever see something on TV you’d like to be, aspire to besides coal miner, what’s holding you in Williamson, talked about elsewhere Erie, PA; why are you so insularly and like president Trump uncurious about your world, the rest of your country, what might be out there for you should you leave your dilapidated, one horse, run down home town? Why the clinging to a ‘home town’ that is literally dying, why does it escape the understanding of you and the newly minted college graduate in Erie that that dying is normal, the ebb and flow of time since the goal rush days, mining boom towns leaving the moment mineral access dried up, oil wells ran dry; your best course of action up against those odds take any, every opportunity to move, leave, go where things are that fit your credentials, what you want to do, talents you have. Continuing, for the former of the 2 young men, if you can sit through a class on underground drilling, you can sit through a class on installing solar panels to rooves, clean energy installations of any kind, an industry showing exponential growth, sit in a construction, welding, pipefitting, journeyman class. Ideal people to be inspired by fictional characters Augie March and Tom Joad read about in school, apparently not, ideal people to believe that is a path to a better life, larger achievement, greater stability apparently don’t, yet millennials are pegged as the go nowhere generation. Heralded common sense Trump voter Nick Smith telling The Young Turks-about climate change’s effects on his community, fighting for $15 minimum wages for his Waffle House job, because it’s all he’s got mentioned hydro fracking replacing local coal jobs but has made no effort to get that training or move either; neither saying they can’t afford to move, fears hauling their belongings in a vehicle, admit they have no way to relocate. On the flipside employers act put out they can’t find workers, claimed to have raised wages, offered amenities toward enticing workers to jobs, but never offered to cover even a fraction of relocation expenses for a single worker and their family content to wring their hands, whine to print publications, news outlets about ‘the skills gap;’ extraordinarily self-defeating when the problem in Larimer county Colorado (video 1 after paragraph 2) was they added almost twice as many jobs over 5 years than they did citizens, how does that even happen? Mirroring Erie Pennsylvania in the reverse, holding no shortage of people but a shortage of jobs; solution, what an American investment group sought to do in Arkansas refurbish and reuse abandoned factories to revitalize communities following in the footsteps of the Chinese billionaire who converted a former GM plant in Ohio into a glass recycling plant, not to import his own people, rather hire out of work factory personnel, adding a project 3,000 jobs. And why, oh why isn’t this standard business practice in America, if not repurposing derelict, rotting buildings using the property (unless proven to be toxic leaking into office, worker space like in the Indiana housing case), should be free of charge to the business, developer long run saving costs, as all he has to pay for is demolition and building his desired structure; why isn’t there a division in the same building, administrative center you go to apply for proper licensing and permits to begin building, open your business connecting business persons, developers with local abandoned, unused properties ripe for the picking? That Chinese billionaire knew what he was doing too hiring former auto workers already familiar with assembly line work necessitating less training; begging the question why can’t we follow a good example when we see one? Speaking of relocation, former coal miners still in possession of their overall health could easily help rebuild this nation’s aging, crumbling subway, rail, commuter train systems, brain child offered up by MSNBC’s Chris Mathews, again barrowed from how the Chinese improved their infrastructure, so displaced workers can go back to partly familiar work and New York’s coming summer of hell while they replace the busiest, most difficult portion of subway is indeed only one summer, the fire in Boston’s T-line doesn’t mean casualties next time. The Williamson, West Virginia young man’s underground training would be perfect, but their response is more likely to be ‘I’d rather be doing coal,’ what participants told Bernie Sanders during a post-election town hall; the singular thing Erie, PA did right, bring in, institute job training encompassing needed fields specifically electrical work. Confusingly one trainee practically guaranteed a job at the end was teary-eyed, almost incredulous he has to be retrained for different work, that at his age he would essentially be starting out again; totally unaware how lucky he is to have a viable job retraining opportunity. Employers just as guilty never seeming to be able to look at an applicant’s degree, work history, most recent previous job engaging their imagination understanding how that might fit into the position they have open, what complementary fields of study, career, vocation, employment, even marked skill with a hobby could benefit them in a worker; equally unable to agree by industry how we fix the widening skills gap, vacant jobs leaving companies hurting. Take the often referenced Why Johnny Can’t Write And Why Employers are Mad, quickly exposed isn’t that high school and college graduates actually lack the ability to write commiserate with their educations, fell so deficient in the basic 3 R’s comprising school in its earliest form, oh no; it was they didn’t come in seasoned business persons who could make persuasive proposals to the entire board having completed their MBA all of 6 months beforehand, more fluent communicating by text, e-mail than memos, presentations, fear of public speaking treated as a foreign concept. Thoroughly shooting themselves in the foot coincidentally when polled about what was needed from students and schools, in between no shortage of finger pointing up and down the education process, more practical, on the job experience was consistently cited tracking comments made on several skills gap stories alerting readers not merely to the non-transferable nature of skills garnered in manufacturing jobs, but also employers who want odd, totally unrelated skillsets from their workers. Described as those who can perform boardroom functions and expertly manipulate tools, run machines pointing out people who can do one’s brains aren’t wired for the other; falling into place with what we know about academic skill sets those who do well in math will struggle with the creative side of English, usually excelling at mechanics and grammar, those who do well with the creative side of English will probably lag at grammar and mechanics, doing poorly in math, those who do marginally, barely pass academics hold one exceptional talent, inherent skill in cooking, wood working, welding, mechanics, construction, are good with tools, their hands, thrive in art. Knowing what we know is generally common knowledge about brain wiring, learning and talent manifestation, it makes less and less sense how employers structure their work environments they expect employees to not only function but excel in; lending credence to research showing it might not be just your imagination, your boss may really be crazy, many CEO, manger types displaying characteristics of textbook psychopathology 4 times the general population, horrible movie, TV bosses personified, probably another reason workers can’t get hired. Combine that with entire growing segments of the population who are excluded from workforce participation through one hurdle or another; here’s a hint it’s not the typical republican, Robert A. Hall, Mike Rowe, Dennis Miller, Bill Maher, screaming, complaining and telling bad, supposed to be timely jokes, regaling us via relentless mantras depicting people too stupid or lazy to earn a paycheck. Top on the list women, we already know it isn’t safe, forget fulfilling to show up for work, whether you work somewhere like Fox News as a television anchor doing so much as your local news, in a place however reminiscent of Hollywood, that needs to retain its professionalism, sell jewelry at Kay, women sales staple Avon, try to sell your own created brand of product X, work in the tech industry unless you enjoy being inundated with work while on negotiated, unpaid maternity leave, relish being the odd duck in the office, only one of your gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation; here everyone thought it was because math was just too hard for their ‘fairer sex,’ programing/coding too complicated. Understood is that Hollywood is Hollywood, its very basis debauchery, but when an acting coach is preying on young teenagers and someone achieving the title producer, a known entity, operative in that scene who should know how to conduct themselves, asks an actress if she spits or swallows, the problem is bigger than come on knock it off man; women exiting popular shows and movies over sexism or equal pay for equal work, as was the case with Michelle Rodriguez’s abrupt exit from Fast and Furious’ latest installment followed by Grace Park’s refusal to return to the Hawaii 50 reboot for their 9th season. Proven you can’t be an athlete and a woman either, just ask the U.S. gymnasts systematically sexually abused as teenagers by the team doctor; don’t go into management women, don’t try to compete there guaranteed you won’t get it and be utterly demeaned in the meantime, passed over hardly knowing why. Jill Abramson was unceremoniously fired from her prominent newspaper job then replaced by a man known for punching holes in walls either because she couldn’t save an already sinking ship or for speaking out about the pay gap she discovered. When you can be fired in some states if you don’t wear makeup, deign to use birth control, veteran senator Elizabeth Warren is being told to sit down and senator Kamala Harris basically told to shut up; congress has new ‘dress codes’ for reporters standing outside the Whitehouse in dangerous heat told to don sleeves, too well do we remember the national outcry over former first lady Michelle Obama’s bare arms. Now imagine being a girl, woman holding an interest in the very do something, dirty jobs Mr. Rowe champions, does he honestly think that will go over well in the overwhelmingly male dominated fields he put on his show, housing the most vacant jobs, noting it took a viral twitter hashtag to break through stereotypes of who looks like an engineer, a line of pink building toys to let girls freely explore building things, chronicling news stories about air marshals gone wild resulting in the suicide of one lesbian marshal thanks in part to a perverted Jeopardy game played around the office demeaning women, minorities and the LGBT community, the sexual assault of another female marshal. Sexual misconduct, harassment, assault and full-blown rape in the military is as par for the course as boot camp; worse, women serving in military ranks who report sexual assault are pegged as having a personality disorder and told to get over it or discharged entirely, lock step in line with a society where Jennifer Lawrence’s self-deprecation regarding her pay inequality and lagging negotiation skills was readily accepted, women continually berated for lacking negotiation skills, so called refusal to negotiate. Compartmentalizing the undeniable questions about can a woman handle large hammers, industrial sized equipment, construction equipment, unscrew corroded pipes, handle large animals, manage duties on a fishing ships, comments on their lesser upper body strength, based on medical research or no, can they tolerate grueling hours, the sexist nature those comments are bound to take, fact employers, no matter how desperate, wouldn’t dream of hiring a woman to do these jobs. Who would tell their daughters to go into such a field understanding how easily they could be sexually harassed, assaulted on a construction jobsite, inside someone’s home as a plumber doubted for her abilities, the reverse of perception on male handymen, predators posing as utility company workers, using that job to assault people when; 2 New York City female bus drivers performing an unsung, do something job allege they were systematically sexually harassed at work to the point one contemplated suicide to end pressure of keeping quiet, who felt broken like never before post the experience of having her face licked trying to pick up her daily schedule, one more vocation in which women are not welcome, but all we have to do is make work cool again not confront employment system dysfunction. Similarly, persons overcoming disabilities, mental health challenges, developmental delay are a whole different section of slammed doors in their faces; because despite the Americans with disabilities act, businesses determined to help these individuals secure a job and a means to support themselves, at least in part, there aren’t nearly enough of them to accommodate need. Especially with the projected half a million autistic young people slated to age out of educational/youth services in the next decade, though they work well in highly structured environments and can handle the intense focus and attention to detail to edit computer code, be a whiz at numbers exc. Rather than perhaps being given a job, a man with autism was arrest 100 times in New York City for repeatedly driving public busses, trains, an uncontrollable urge, never mind he kept the train on schedule, announced all stops, appropriately let passengers on an off and at 15, the first time he snuck into the divers cabin of a subway train ‘taking off with it,’ knew exactly what to do with the controls, he now languishes in jail for the continued repeat offense; autism spectrum disorders only one section of the disabled community. Elsewhere, employers again have largely ceased local cooperation with vocational rehabilitation, disability services designed to give such individuals basic work skills in dishwashing, simple food preparation, minimum wage type employment; likewise they regularly refuse to take on a disabled employee with only physical limitations, even if entities a-la VR offer to furnish adaptive equipment, a jobsite aide to help the worker learn procedures and job duties, reimburse for job training expenses. Thus many are shuttled onto supplemental security income SSI or social security disability child benefits to provide for themselves, happening enough with mental illness sufferers also working still eligible and requiring stipends to survive because they can only work part time; undeniably over bloated job descriptions negatively impact both developmentally delayed and mentally ill persons’ abilities to get a job when the majority of jobs in the individuals area are full time and they need part time to manage stress and their disorder, employers are inflexible with work hours, jobs are just too complicated for the persons capacity, think that scene in I am Sam where he is briefly promoted to making coffee, job descriptions are plainly written to have one person fill positions for 5 people. Mismatched job duties impact all potential disabled employees but particularly shut out those with physical barriers; example a job wanting someone to do forklift operation, stable cleaning and clerical work, who want display set up, apartment showing and clerical duties. Meaning you may have to lift, manipulate things too heavy for your disability, may be asked to show a home that’s inaccessible, has front steps, an upstairs level, in larger cities has flights of stairs reaching the vacant dwelling translating into at the very least an awkward showing as the limited person tries to navigate it all and impress possible renters; dido jobs melding packing and clerical functions putting too much stress on different bodies. Awkwardness not limited to obtaining a job but lingering once you join a company team being disabled and not able to participate in walking lunches, confined to a standard, not treadmill or standing desk, struggling through standing meetings with bad knees, hips or back, old football, former employment injuries acting up. Making work cool again won’t help these people either Mr. Rowe and tactics barring them from other employment areas just creates a domino effect of added problems.
Returning exclusively to the able bodied or mostly able bodied, further if you want to start, have a full discussion about both moving forward, defacto meaning embracing innovation as well as filling jobs that consistently go wanting for workers, there has to be a serious conversation surrounding restoring the dignity of work; not just how we talk about blue collar work and workers, not just convincing employers to fill said positions they must raise wages, moving it away from implied hazard pay for extremely strenuous work, being covered in various levels of filth for the should be middle class life they can’t achieve. Rowe is right it is completely up to us to define what a good job is, what productive, solid work looks like, fine; however, a good job should be one where employers are treated with decency beyond how their bosses and co-workers speak to them, tones on the jobsite. Provided the tools and equipment to do their jobs consistently and efficiently; furnished the safety gear and built in structures in work buildings properly ventilating and filtering the air in an insulation making plant, similar facilities so workers aren’t inhaling debris, having dust settle into their lungs, constantly coughing up things, hazmat style suits for local recycling plants to avoid horrendous smells, procedures to ensure broken glass isn’t all over floors, ending up imbedded in people’s limbs. Property limiting exposure to toxic chemicals known to cause diseases as devastating as cancer and other health problems as minor as dizziness, nausea and fatigue, investing in mechanization so that a spill at a Dollar General warehouse doesn’t result in chlorine poisoning because the worker was diligent enough to attempt finishing their shift, disposing of mess and unknowing of the potential danger they were in; ensuring industrial equipment is up to date and always kept in good working order as to prevent horrible accidents, costly workman’s comp claims, lifelong maiming. Parts and tools employees are expected to use in building circuit breakers, other goods are top notch, not used because employees can eventually bang them into alignment, struggle and fight with them for several minutes forcing them into their designated place while still making factory rate, rate quotas designed based on contingencies like listed above, all physically demanding tasks, those known to cause ailments as little as carpal tunnel syndrome and as significant as joint replacement mitigated with an eye toward life span longevity of body parts. Why, not because of ever talked about American laziness, lacking stamina, perceived softness; but, knowledge people allowed to do physical labor safely, correctly can work longer, be on the same job along enough to pass on their expertise to younger workers, cost less to programs like Medicare, Medicaid, such people need less disability payouts, none at all. No young person 16 to 30 is going to entertain the idea of engaging in do something, manual labor work despite their inclinations, known skills with their hands until you do, not because they are allergic to work, fear getting their hands dirty, possess an aversion to sweat, but because they know the end result of decimated physical ability and live in an increasingly health conscious society. Instead of the most basic safeguards complying with laws we already have, workers are daily subjected to dangerous conditions, temperamental, poorly working machines, outdated, overly repaired rather than replaced tools or equipment partially explaining the man in the extended Erie, PA profile haughtily asking how much the jobs scooped up be immigrants pay, causing viewers to bristle until he mentioned unsafe working conditions and hazardous tools; Deepwater horizon oil rig explosions, mining operations leading to the death of workers, factory fires all things we know/knew about. Proving there is nothing perfect or reasonable about asking someone to do a job, in order to earn a living that will eventually leave them with a serious musculoskeletal deformity in their golden years no matter how good a shape they keep themselves in throughout their life, there is nothing to be celebrated, around a kitchen table or anywhere else, about promoting work, doing work that multiplies exponentially the chances of respiratory disease, cancer and other serious maladies, literally cripple young, youthful persons in a few short years because it satisfies anyone’s definition of what a good job, hard work, solid work looks like, what it is to be a man’s man or any of that other macho, rah, rah crap that went out with the 1950’s for good reason, and no, Tucker Carlson there is nothing dignified, that confers dignity about forever being sweaty, filthy, dirt covered, unable to get car grease, industrial lubricants or the remanence of manipulating plumbing all day, farm excrement, meat packing scraps out from under your nails, out of your work clothing, chancing experiencing heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia or frost bite, constant exposure to temperature extremes weakening the immune system and leading to colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, sick days, extra sick days taken, blindness or asthma just to go to work. Wondered at by watchers of Dirty Jobs, Somebody’s Gotta Do It, is how Mike Row manages his good health, has kept his joints intact, is not suffering respiratory dysfunction, is not walking bent over and deformed like so many immigrant seen working fields, mowing lawns, doing plumbing, running electrical wiring; oh wait maybe it’s because Mr. Rowe is, or was, a pitch man before dirty jobs was a show, did opera to get his screen actors guild membership and today spends the bulk of his time going on TV shows explaining the working man to non-manual laborers, even when he was doing his famous show he did the it task for a few hours, a single workday not 10, 20, 30 odd years straight, double oh. Fixing this means, OSHA enforcement, shutting down businesses with ongoing, repetitive safety violations, management mentality hinging premise it’s easier to pay cumulative fines than fix problems, operate safely; not permitting businesses to go up, natural resource extraction, chemical creation endeavors to begin unless those parameters are in place, remember Deepwater Horizon was issued operation permits and even allowed to file wavers for not having a cleanup plan should the unthinkable happen and when it did they were chastised by officials expecting NASA level solutions, not high school. As mentioned at the start of the paragraph embracing technology, as opposed to shunning college degrees, comprehending computer programing, coding, robotics, engineering and all its facets will solve problems of both now and in the future preserving the health of current and coming generations, believe it or not; calculating how many practical applications of science, engineering, technology and math bent towards solving an existing conundrum, bettering someone’s life with cheaper adaptive technology, prosthetic limbs or related materials began as high school, 4 year university class projects in STEM, advanced STEM subjects, science fair contest entries, robotics competitions. Whether you’re talking about the incubator designed specifically to aid low birthweight babies in developing counties miles from a hospital, the boy who invented a lighter more portable and effective sandbag, the older young man who created a better detector for pancreatic cancer, the disease taking famed lecturer Randy Pausch, the middle school class who used 3D printing to create a prosthetic limb for a farmer following in the footsteps of college students who did the same for people in war torn Africa; another created a custom wheelchair for a little girl who couldn’t easily fit into standard models, never mind her parents couldn’t afford it, weighted backpacks helping calm kids with autism. Too it’s acknowledging the primary reason we don’t already possess machines, innovations, apparatuses to help workers work safer, to make work less strenuous and grueling toward lessening joint degradation, eventual replacement, chronic pain is precisely due to there also always having been an immigrant, slave, negro, disadvantaged African American or desperately poor white person, prior convict, societies ‘undesirables’ willing to do such back breaking work, viewed lowly, humble work for meager money. However, just because we always previously could hire such workers and cheap too, doesn’t mean we should have in the past, should continue doing so now; said advancements positively putting less stress on human bodies not because we’re wusses, have gone soft, are ‘all obese and so out of shape we can’t work,’ and countering instead because repetitive stress injuries, tendonitis, arthritis and joint damage were always bad, costly and most importantly unnecessary in the modern era. Myself having sat in job classes listening to workers talk about back surgeries, shoulder surgeries, knee issues from lifting patients forced into a sedentary job because too much movement aggravates their injuries. Moving specificity to how science, beyond high school, college trailblazers, prodigies is solving previously thought insurmountable problems to the everyday annoyances, holding incalculable potential for making work safer, restoring its dignity think drones not delivering your Amazon order, your takeout, your dry cleaning, try delivering blood to remote village hospitals in Rwanda; the solar suitcase also brining light sources to remote village delivery rooms in another part of Africa. Bill Gates is looking for a different kind of toilet to improve 3rd world sanitation stopping disease spread and the Dungaroo designed by another inventor to eliminate standard porta-potty stench, could be a first step in that direction, a stop gap until the Gates model can be perfected. Using either robots to fight fires or soundwaves to douse flames only makes sense considering both monetary and human cost should a firefighter be injured, burned unto death, inability to continue working as a fire fighter or working at all; mitigating, minimizing property damage, fire spread, possibility for greater loss of life if spread is an added happy side effect. Imagine for the remainder of coals usage as fuel using robots to enter mines, do work, collect natural materials saving future generations’ black lung; it can happen if we let it. Hopefully machines changing pipes in tight places, navigating dirt and debris in some of the places Rowe has routinely filmed himself removing the daily contortions required for the love of saving the human musculoskeletal structure of every U.S. inhabitant; migrating the machines globally for everyone’s benefit. Science, technology applied to everyday problems is what’s going to eliminate flushable wipes clogging of sewer pipes, the toilet paper clogging pipes in Mexico and more importantly eliminating the filth in the poor man’s job who’s raking that ewww away from a water filtration screen; either by creating a better degradable wipe, a natural non-toxic substance to be put in pipes removing clog build up and/or replacing the man with a robot absent a sense of smell. Science led to the removal of carcinogens from red fireworks because someone bothered to tackle the issue not ban red fireworks. Fixing it means funneling the right people, with the right skills into the right direction to solve real world problems across the employment spectrum not just in do something, manual labor, preferable to what we see happening to many holding a, advanced degrees; the only place for them to use their degree, field expertise is in teaching, academic paper writing, a pay your bills job. Case in point, the NFL prospect pursuing a PHD in math, submitting papers on the sun, Jupiter, asteroid 3 body problem, but makes his bread and butter, pays his bills teaching; look at the bulk of what deGrasse Tyson spends his time doing debunking the science fiction in movies by real science, sitting down with fellow learned minds, reporters trying to unravel why American are so bad at math and science, exude a certain pride in that fact, which is all well and for the public good in the era of anti-intellectualism on steroids, asserting science has no meaning, anyone can make up something sounding, appearing scientific, yet does nothing to propel people into science and math fields towards a real world jobs, jobs creation or problem solving. There is no reason the young man in the CBS News out of school out of work video major: biology couldn’t have, with a little bit of extra training worked in any lab across the country assisting in, of not doing the main work, processing the backlog of collected rape kits dancing up against the statute of limitations, urgently understanding criminology and how many times rapist offend before capture, a problem still grappled with 8 years later. Identical story for the architecture degree holding young man who landed at teach for America, given a few community classes and paired with a job training mentor in the field he could have expediently become an unsung building inspector, helped advise on designs of city planning projects, neighborhood revitalization, beautification projects. The marketing/psych dual major seeking a marketing job would have been an asset to nonprofit organizations, city planning projects, community organizations and plays into the giving back goals of millennials, if only we would use the talent pool we have appropriately. Bringing us around to added factors mentioned by Neil deGrasse Tyson attempting to explain the math/science to English college major switch; he’s right on one area, Americans don’t see the connection between math, science and innovation, connecting all 3 to jobs. Where he too is disconnected is it’s impossible for them to see it because no one demonstrates its relevance used in inventions, creations we now take for granted of the past, its most known present application today is in the creation of social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google street view, most older persons think are little more than a nuisance, path to more self-obsession, and the future is an AI robot set to take over the world like Skynet even to the tech savvy individual. Our impetus for increasing standards exclusively in STEM was both standardize test score flagging performances compared to other countries and increase usage of math in the workplace, but our chief enticement for learning these grueling subjects seemingly purposefully made the opposite of understandable was maybe the cool job you could get at NASA, a rare position at a think tank disappointed when they didn’t come close, disappointed when work doesn’t look like the super soaker engineer Johnson laboratories meant to inspire young engineers. Still one more person NASA rocket scientist(literally) or not who made his bones, achieved wealth and success creating a mega water gun idea stemming from designs for a water pump, but could have just as easily come from a childhood frustration with available water guns. No wonder people don’t know how it, math gave them the smart phone, farm machinery or the toaster, coffeepot, digital clock, the airplane. Key then, what always has been and what we’ve always been terrible doing, letting people know if you have a computer programming, coding degree but don’t want to go into IT, computer repair, creation for standard tech companies, you can be of use in manufacturing, also good with your hands manufacturing wants you, welders want you, plumbing, construction also needs you as math and software programs can better plan cities, help them expand, prevent the road rage seen in Colorado by simple observance, if people keep taking the shoulder over that embankment, why not build a connecting road there syphoning traffic off the congested highway. Fixing it means getting people working these industries in the habit of where possible solving their own problems like the app alerting farmers when a mother sow is about to sit on a young piglet since many deaths of animals that young, constituting a famer’s livelihood happen because they are accidentally crushed by mom. Or the tubing and mechanization allowing Vermont maple syrup makers to keep pace with completion from bigger corporations, artificial flavoring added to existing syrup products; when not paring them with the STEM field personnel who can look at a problem and devise a workable solution, what we fail so miserably to do now.
Finally, people who have a passion for the work they do, do their best work period end of sentence; people who have a passion for their work 9 times out of 10 have an inherent talent for the largest part of their job description, making them better than the best educated, trained person you cultivate for years because they possess a natural instinct for what they are doing. Perhaps a more accurate, inspiring way to phrase, rephrase what Rowe was getting at is to replace the word passion with natural talent, aptitude, what you do best and how you can turn that into a job or career, avenue to make you money. Watch video on the high school who made the students it’s IT department; sure under Rowe’s doctrine he’d much rather our featured young man walk his original course going into diesel mechanics, because we desperately need those, but he found something that ignites his world, makes it worth living in and isn’t that the point too, where all the dirty job workers would like to get to? Nor is it that there aren’t people who want these so called and aptly named dirty jobs, forgetting momentarily all the pervious aspects discussed about job knowledge, post high school training while costing less than college is still unaffordable to persons possessing no way to pay for post-secondary schooling at all; people who desire vacant jobs driven by dollar signs, the last remaining employee market where they can drive their own destiny, may not have the mathematical skill, but more importantly the mechanical aptitude to quickly distinguish tools i.e. types of wrenches, screwdrivers or drills, may not be physically capable of doing the job owing less to obesity and poor physical shape instead manual dexterity, individuals who are clumsy, klutzy, don’t work well with their hands, excel and wood working or even understanding welding, small gas engines, have no facility with computer operation, never mind coding or programing, clearly their brains aren’t wired to excel in this area. Exactly who you don’t want working in a STEM or dirty job; if someone is more likely to show up at a Mike Rowe apparently coined phrase ‘shovel ready’ job promptly bonking themselves in the head with said shovel, stabbing their co-worker in the foot with it, they need to be somewhere else and that’s ok. We want them somewhere else, if we’re smart, we’ll help them find that somewhere else making room for people with the aptitude, inherent skill; the challenge is getting them out and the right people in. Here is where Neil deGrasse Tyson has to be contradicted again in more than saying mathematical literacy isn’t trig identities and certainly not done in high school, especially not at a time when thoughtful arguments have been made for removing algebra requirements, forget calculus, from high school graduation so non-math inclined students can move on to cooking school, dreaded English majors, too being a value in their economy when the open a restaurant, start a newspaper, become and investigative journalist, perhaps tutor students in English; likewise equally credible arguments for removing college algebra from degree requirements for non-math intensive fields so students can obtain their degree and enter into the employment market successfully, not continue spending money to retake math courses, get this far and give up on a degree still left with crushing debt. Also cropping up, serious conversations about how much math is needed for adjacent fields in computer information systems, programming, coding college major requirements for calculus 3 when most programmers concede you need little beyond algebra II unless you plan to operate in the specialties of 3D graphics, 3D gamming; people interested in those avenues already can do that math or have found tangible workarounds manipulating software, reading code. Because yes the act of learning math can positively change your brain forging new pathways, enhancing logic and critical thinking skills; it can just as easily negatively wire your brain for stress, anxiety and panic, curious Tyson has not seen this. It equally explains the ‘pride’ aura coming off people in discussing the mathematical and scientific ignorance; they would rather be sane, relaxed and mathematically less inclined when it comes to equations, algebra, geometry proofs and trig identities than revisit their traumatizing mathematical experiences. A worthy distinction, being scientifically and mathematically literate the way K-12 graduating students are now, opting out of chemistry, choosing an elective for 3rd or 4th year science, those older persons never going past biology, older still who didn’t get that far because it wasn’t available, is profoundly different than being particularly gifted, astute in science/math, reaching an extraordinary level, wanting a career field ripe with either one. Additionally there is a stark difference between what he terms mathematical and scientific literacy, a solid facility with both and respecting science and math, their role in society, there role in inventions, computers, medicine, importance of research, what he’s actually asking and advocating for. On the scientific front they too must own some of the backlash against their field whether it’s the debunked study, disgraced doctor linking vaccines causing autism or doctored climate data, misestimating of the thickness of Antarctic glacial ice, to studies on the health benefits, unhealthiness of foods, benefits of endless kinds of exercise, calling sitting the new smoking, waffling back and forth over which food are good for you which are bad; which came bad first teeth causing heart disease or bad teeth a sign of heart disease, drugs approved by the FDA only to spawn lawsuits after horrendous side effects, deaths, then haughtily wonder why pockets of the public ‘refuse to trust science anymore.’ There remains too a huge gulf between respecting science in the way deGrasse Tyson would like all of America do, gobbling up everything about it and the approach taken by many, perfectly fine with respecting science/math, believing science as long as they aren’t expected to do the scientific, high level mathematical work. Neither do we have a shortage of students interested in STEM, particularly math and science, a shortage understanding, graduating in it; want proof check out the linked videos of 14 year old Carson Huey graduating from Texas Christian University with a double minor in Chinese and math, major in physics, his brother 11 is graduating high school, plans to attend the same university double majoring in astrophysics and engineering. There’s 11 year old Jaxon Cota MENSA member, solving large number problems, algebra and geometry simple to him poised to do great things and living a balanced life on top of it, choosing to stay at grade level, enjoy being a kid while his parents find extracurricular, recreational outlets for his talents. Romanieo Golphin Jr., 7 is justifiably being called the next Einstein since at 2 he was able to tell you which element had how many electrons, he knows chemical compounds most have to google to verify they really exist and walking by a copper statute at the museum during Inside Edition’s interview quickly spouted the electron configuration for the element. Meandering a slightly different path unto a different destiny check out 4 year old Daliyah Arana who has read thousands of books spurred only be a mother’s continuous reading in utero, encouragement and doing things like pointing to words as she read sentences at age 2. Children obviously meant to be a scientist, engineer, mathematician, computer whiz, you said yourself Mr. Tyson in chose you from your first trip to the planetarium; Mike Rowe will notice hopefully no one had to push these kids, entice them steer them anywhere, they did it themselves. Similarly the solution, contrary to the hacking competitor’s suggestion/ observation about Russian students, Russian education and the implied benefits, is not foisting calculous and computer programming on high school students all; certainly because he wanted to study it he should have been allowed to, students should be exposed to it in order to arouse the interest he found and he under no circumstances should have encountered what he did in his early years math class. His teacher should have taken it to someone more fluent in math and asked them if it was gibberish or innovation, better yet asked their student to explain what they had done in arriving at the correct answer, recognized their gift and cultivated it, put them in a different level math, given them more challenging work they were clearly ready for, been fired for not doing so. By all means give students showing an aptitude for STEM, science, math alone all the math and science, computer programing they want, can cram into their schedules in turn let others stop at the basics cramming their schedules with the thing that excites them. But if you really want to make Americans better at math take heed to the comments on the Neil deGrasse Tyson video trailing after the opening paragraph employing teachers who speak English clearly and can adequately explain math to the non-mathematically inclined, not particularly gifted in the subject, hmm; counterproductively, what happens when they hire that highly credentialed, coveted math teacher students are combatting his/her accent along with complex, confusing material. Or while the ‘teacher’ can do the complex, multilayered mathematical computations he can’t explain the process to someone not already familiar with it, students starting to grasp higher mathematical concepts, usually with a side of total social awkwardness, poor interaction abilities with people, especially kids forming yet another obstacle. If you want to shore up our nation’s cyber defenses better than they are today from a technical standpoint, hacking has to come out of the shadows, stop being a dirty word, hacking skills put to positive use, more hackathon events, more sanctioned, acceptable places for hackers to ply and hone their skills with jobs on the other side; suggestion give a screened young hacker Edward Snowden’s former job, dido the guy who walked out of the NSA with secret document, better still hire them to fortify its defenses first. Just like no Malcolm Nance it isn’t the fallen behind, backward nature of U.S. hacking ability spelling hacked elections, ongoing Russian interference, it is exactly what was laid out in a New York Times article a little over a week ago; to prevent Russian hacking, ISIS hacking any foreign hacking interference with votes conduct regular threat assessments and replace voting outdated machines using ancient operating systems like Windows XP sans security updates no longer available, switch out old voting machines with no paper trail will fully electronic ones that also generate a tangible record and lastly, audit the votes using a large enough sampling to gage discrepancies. Lockstep with consumer advice given after both the ‘wannacry’ and ‘Petya’ download all updates from Microsoft staggering how many people, entities worldwide who hadn’t done that easy step, keeping all anti-virus software installed and up to date, one more thing many lack. We forget A-‘wannacry’ was stolen work done by Microsoft for counter intelligence type purposes commissioned by the NSA and pirated from there; B- an American engineer discovered the kill switch sans use of any significant technical knowhow merely noticing every time it high jacked a computer it came back to an unregistered website, registering it for roughly 10 dollars, no more ‘wannacry.’ A healthy side of paying attention hardly out of line, getting the right people on the same page to even agree Russian hacking did happen, wasn’t a flimsy excuse for a lost election wouldn’t hurt in the least. Not to be ruled out, unduly dismissed when examining how the world’s greatest problems got solved years ago, end up being solved at present the power of inventors and tinkerers, tinker skills. Added to the children competing in competitions already showing the beginnings of engineers, scientists are those tinkerers who turn their hobby, interest toward things to solve a problem they saw in their world, things done creeper than the standard cost to help someone who couldn’t afford a prosthetic limb for example; the girl who created a cup for use by her Parkinson’s suffering grandpa who kept spilling his drinks also having applications for small children, individuals with other mobility issues, who got the attention of a design team and sells various colors/sizes online. The boy who made a cheap Braille printer out of Legos, weights and pins bought at Home Depot, $350 to build, $400 target commercial cost from 2,000 plus as of late 2014; hours of previous play with Legos paying off for him. The girl, who used her thirst for science, turned it into a prototype and then an app helping bridge the gap between visually impaired students and ‘very visual’ chemistry giving verbal readouts of atomic elements and the ability to print out their composition using a 3D printer. A boy who after seeing a person in a wheelchair struggle to open a door at a local business designed an app similar to yelp or trivago for accessibility features so that disabled persons can find restaurant and other venues that have the features they need, low tables for persons in wheelchairs, convenient ramps to enter and exit, automatic door openers. A 14 year old boy who raised thousands of dollars to create and distribute first aide vending machines to dispense basics like Band-Aids brought about after traveling with his baseball team and being in a situation without any around; 6 Flags having ordered 100 machines for their parks upon the device making headlines. An 11 year old boy who designed a sensor to detect infants, children and easily adaptable to pets left in hot cars sending a message to parents phones, then the police complete with fan to prevent heat exhaustion, death. Another simple device probably created with the contents of a household junk drawer can keep small animals from drowning in backyard pools; NASA reached out to the public for their best ideas when they issued the pooch challenge trying to get astronauts out of diapers while in space. How many discoveries, breakthroughs were accidents penicillin to name but one, how many chemicals, lubricants, adhesives were created by Dow and Dopant, 3M that weren’t put to good use, fully actualized until years later, were instrumental in creating vital materials we can’t live without; availability of smart homes and adjacent technology right now helps keep an autistic family safe while giving their children ability level independence. How many more strange chemicals, seemingly useless gadgets, ultimately made our lives undeniably better, paved the way for the next great thing, the next lifesaving medicine, next wave disease detection; how many more will tomorrow? Things that would never have been discovered without both science, math, higher education and the freedom to be who you are, to make the choices right for you and yes follow your passion, not just opportunity.