A Shovel, a Gap and Mike Rowe

I’ve always liked Mike Rowe. And earlier this year, (thanks to our time served on the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Committee) I was able to see him up close and personal. It was an amazing time, an amazing speech and he is an amazing man. I feel even more so now.

Mr. Rowe testified in front of the Senate Commerce Committee recently, regarding what he considers a “Skills Gap.” In essence, we push, prod and reward those that strive for excellence in careers such as doctors, lawyers, etc., but consider skilled labor as something fit for those that couldn’t make it in college, or at least not far enough to get a doctorate. It’s an amazing read, go ahead, it’s linked up above. Read it. Now.

He’s right.

And I’m guilty of it, too.

When I think of my boys’ futures, I think about doctors and lawyers and all things that moms dream of…but I’m forgetting about what they’re dreaming of. Why? Every day we rely on those people that are behind the scenes, but how many people look at their child and say, “Someday, I hope you’ll be a mechanic.” Why?

EJ is working on his truck, while Dad is washing the combine.

We use electricity, but forget about the linemen. We get into our vehicles everyday, knowing that if something goes wrong a mechanic is a phone call away. We eat, but the dirt is under someone else’s fingernails. All these things we take for granted everyday. And Mr. Rowe is right…it needs to change.

Technology is changing the world, but our reliance on skilled labor is as great as it has ever been. We need tradesmen as much as we need doctors. And we need to encourage those that have a passion for those careers.

The next time my son picks up a wrench and asks what it’s for, my answer will be different. That tool is just as important as a scalpel. Who am I to try to determine what the tools for his future are? I can provide for him all the options available, but the choice is his to make.

So whether he decides to go into a cutting-edge profession such as social-media marketing, or a centuries-old one such as farming, I know one thing for certain…I’ll be there to hand him the tools he needs.