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>> WORKFORCE CRISIS MIKE ROWE Editor's preface Work smarter, not harder? Don't tell Mike Rowe, who has met some of the hardest-working people in America. In fact, he argues that mantra is the opposite of the attitude we need to beat this lousy economy. Here is what Mike has to say about the advice he received from his high school guidance counselor, Mr. Dunbar. W hen I was 17, my high school guidance counselor tried to talk me into going on to earn a four-year degree. I had nothing against college, but the universities that Mr. Dunbar recommended were expensive, and I had no idea what I wanted to study. I thought a commu- nity college made more sense, but Mr. Dunbar said a two-year school was "beneath my potential." He pointed to a poster hanging behind his desk: On one side of the poster was a beaten-down, depressed- looking blue-collar worker; on the other side was an optimistic college graduate with his eyes on the horizon. Underneath, the text read: "Work Smart NOT Hard." "Mike, look at these two guys," Mr. Dunbar said. "Which one do you want to be?" I had to read the caption twice. Work Smart NOT Hard? Back then, universities were promoting themselves aggressively, and propaganda like this was all over the place. Did it work? Well, it worked for colleges, that's for sure. Enroll- ments soared. But at the same time, trade schools faltered. Vocational classes began to vanish from high schools. Apprenticeship programs and community colleges became examples of "alternative education," vocational consolation prizes for those who weren't "college material." Today, student loans eclipse $1 trillion. ere's high unemployment among recent college graduates, and most graduates with jobs are not even working in their field of study. And we have a skills gap. At last count, 3 million jobs are currently available that either no one can do, or no one seems to want. How crazy is that? I think oen about the people I met on Dirty Jobs. Most of them were tradesmen. Many were entrepreneurs and innovators. Some were millionaires. People are always surprised to hear that, because we no longer equate dirt with success. But we should. I remember Bob Combs, a modest pig farmer who fabricated from scratch a massive contraption in his backyard that changed the face of modern recycling in Las Vegas by using the casino food-waste stream to feed his animals. He was offered $75 million for his operation and turned it down. He's a tradesman. Then there was Matt Freund, a dairy farmer in Connecticut who thought his cows' manure might be more valuable than their milk, and who built an ingenious machine that makes biodegradable f lowerpots out of cow crap. He now sells millions of CowPots all over the world. He's a tradesman. Mostly, I remember hundreds of men and women who loved their jobs and worked their butts off: welders, mechanics, electricians, plumbers. I've met them in every state, and seen firsthand a pride of workmanship that simply doesn't exist in most "cleaner" Why 'Work Smart, Not Hard' is the Worst Advice in the World This article originally ran in the August 2013 issue of Popular Mechanics. CED urges you to circulate it to every local middle school, high school and college you can think of. 34 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | March 2015 A heavy-equipment technician with real-world experience can earn upward of six figures...But still the positions go unfilled?... What's going on?