Bill Maher and Mike Rowe Discuss What Dirty Jobs Mean to America

Besides the great comments submitted on the last couple of posts, I had some insightful feedback via email. One especially interesting comment came from Glen in Arkansas, who said...
"The attitude of entitlement projected by so many of the young folks we interview at EFS is an epidemic. It's not, "What can I do for your firm and clients?" it's "What are you going to do for me?"
He went on to describe the reasons he believes this attitude is so common. I know, as the father of seven kids, five who are now teens and twenty-somethings, that their approach to life and values are different than mine were forty years ago. They definitely don't want to get dirty. I thought getting dirty was the fun part of work.

Generational differences, I suppose, have always been so. The important thing is to acknowledge and react to this different culture in a way that produces positive outcomes, those that bring production of goods and services back to its important and respected place in our world.

Quite by accident, I stumbled across this video of a Bill Maher television show from last summer, in which he interviews Mike Rowe, the host of a great show called Dirty Jobs. You may know him better from his Ford commercials. He has become a spokesman for hands-on work, in a way. The video is a funny but spot-on commentary on the jobs gap, and what can be done about it. Turn the volume down some, Maher's language is salty, as usual for him.

One way to re-instill the importance of strong work ethic in our society is to push back against the biases discussed by Rowe and Maher above with the message of pride and satisfaction in a job well done. The National Association of Manufacturers has taken on this task with an excellent short video that accurately reflects this feeling that too few of us seem to relate to these days.

It's a start. The challenge to those of us currently in the wood and forest industries is to make sure our companies offer the kind of work environment that really does allow folks to achieve The American Dream. The Dream changes slightly for every generation...but unless the work gets done, that dream will become very small, indeed.

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Anonymous said…
Wow. Lets get both these videos in the hands of policy makers with regard to education, rather than continuing to throw money (tax payer funded)at issues!

And for the kids that are really just reflecting what they have been taught, it is an attitude, that has to start in the home.

Maybe the video can be played at every PTO meeting!!

Anonymous said…
Dr. Chuck,

I think I can sum up your last three blogs as the following for the wood industry, education and employment.

1. You don't need a college education.
2. The work is dirty and noisy.
3. It does not pay well.
4. Young people do not want to do this kind of work.
5. Young people have a sense of entitlement and are above this kind of work.

Additional Comments:

6. Most of the wood jobs have gone to China and Vietnam.

7 The land grant schools are closing or shrinking their wood and forestry programs.

8. Employers do not value wood based degrees, preferring engineers of various flavors.

Seems like higher education needs to just close shop on this whole endeavor. Focus on political science, philosophy, hotel and restaurant management, engineering, pre-law, and business management etc.

Why offer education for something nobody really wants? A wood education costs the same as the others at the same institutions, It seems to me to be a poor investment.

That kind of makes you like the last buggy whip salesman from a bygone era.

You have to love it!

Take care!
Carla Harper said…
Chuck, great post as always. Hope to see more of them. I like to emphasize that, in spite of what we are told, human nature nor principles ever change. Getting the "fruit" of life starts with the "roots." Satisfaction with things money can buy comes when they are worked for, including dirty jobs.

Keep up the good work.

Carla Harper
Anonymous said…
I thought about this a while. I can never remember seeing a college professor getting dirty on the job.

Chuck Ray said…
I'm not sure I like the implication, Anon... :-)

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