Monday, October 11, 2010

Training for "Dirty" Jobs

Some of you may be familiar with Mike Rowe - the host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel. On the show, Rowe takes up a job and highlights the people that perform it. Over the course of about 200 episodes, Rowe has been a garbage collector, pig farmer, Rose Parade float dismantler, skull cleaner, and a glass maker for the Fenton Art Glass Company (it doesn’t look like Rowe has done any glass installation, but maybe we can talk him into it at some point).

Last week, Rowe was on Capitol Hill to testify as part of the
the Association of Equipment Manufacturers' I Make America campaign. Rowe mentioned something I’ve talked about on this blog: the need for more and better vocational education in the United States. Rowe testified that although he doesn’t expect the country to become dominated by manufacturing again, he thinks it is unfortunate that those types of jobs are now something employees settle for, rather than take pride in. According to Rowe, one of the reasons is the decline of vocational education: "It's not happening because people hate community colleges, it's not happening because people hate the trades, it's happening because we're promoting a very specific kind of education at the expense of the others."

Vocational education in the United States has a key role to play in the economic recovery. The NGA has contributed to vocational education by partnering with Ed2Go, a company that helps four-year colleges and trade schools offer skills training to students. Through this partnership, the NGA and WDDA now offer online training and an industry internship. This new program was announced just a few weeks ago and we expect many students to take advantage of this program over the coming months.

If you’re an NGA or WDDA member, you could work with a local school to boost this partnership and education in your community. If that’s something you’re interested in, or if you would like to assist with the NGA or WDDA's internships, let us know.

Rowe is right: we need to work together to make sure these “dirty” jobs get the respect they deserve.

Matt Rumbaugh
Sr. Manager of Education, Training, and Certification
National Glass Association, Window & Door Dealers Alliance

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