Mike Rowe: America Must Return to Dirty Jobs


Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe and keynote speaker at the upcoming 2011 AFBF Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia took to the pages of US News and World Report this week to urge Americans to again embrace dirty jobs. Rowe says that the composition of the country’s gross domestic product has always mirrored a willingness to get dirty.

“When agriculture dominated output, dirt was recognized as the essential ingredient to prosperity. Getting dirty was synonymous with jobs and food. Consequently, we valued our dirty farmers.

With the industrial revolution, The dirty face of farming and manufacturing got a thorough scrubbing, and the definition of a “good job” began to change. Silicon Valley rolled out a sparkling new toolbox, full of gleaming possibilities, and for the first time in our history, the bulk of our output was tied to clean jobs. What do we have to show for it? Record unemployment, a looming skills gap, a crumbling infrastructure, and a dearth of manufacturing.”


Rowe says that America needs to return to its dirty root and abandon the notion of what constitutes quality employment. He notes that what used to be know as a good job is now looked at with disdain. We need to re-examine what makes up a ‘good job.’

“Skilled tradesmen are now products of “alternative education.” Valuable apprenticeships and on-the-job training serve as vocational consolation prizes for those not suited to a traditional sheepskin. We continue to promote the four-year degree at the expense of all other forms of knowledge, even as graduates move back home in record numbers, drowning in record debt. Meanwhile, the Future Farmers of America officially changed its name to FFA because the term “farmer” negatively impacted its ability to attract new members. Extraordinary.”

Mike Rowe will keynote the 2011 AFBF Annual Meeting in January.

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