by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rowe, the host of “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” and former host of of the hit TV show “Dirty Jobs,” appeared Thursday on Fox Business to promote his new book “The Way I Heard It.” On the show, Rowe was asked by host Stuart Varney what he thought about the $1.5 trillion federal student loan debt.
“We have unintendedly maligned an entire section of our workforce by promoting one form of education, in my opinion, at the expense of all of the other forms,” he said.
“Forty years ago, colleges needed a PR campaign,” Rowe added. “We needed more people to get into higher education, but when we gave the big push for college back the in ‘70s, we did it at the expense of alternative education. In other words, we told people, ‘If you don’t get your degree, you’re going to wind up turning a wrench.’ ”
Rowe said the decision by many school systems to do away with shop and metal-working classes has led to a “skills gap” in which millions of vacant jobs have no qualified applicants.
“The skills gap today, in my opinion, is a result of the removal of shop class and the repeated message that the best path for the most people happens to be the most expensive path,” he said.
“This is why, in my opinion, we have $1.6 trillion of student loans on the books and 7.3 million open positions, most of which don’t require a four-year degree,” Rowe added. “We’re just disconnected. We’re rewarding behavior we should be discouraging. We’re lending money we don’t have to kids who are never going to be able to pay it back to train them for jobs that don’t exist anymore. That’s nuts.”