Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mike Rowe, star of Discovery's 'Dirty Jobs,' in Mobile for Go Build Alabama work initiative

rowe01.JPGMike Rowe is in Mobile filming a series of commercials encouraging young people to join the state's construction workforce.

MOBILE, Alabama -- “Dirty Jobs” television host Mike Rowe, who may be best known for wading through maggots and alligator-infested swamps on the Discovery Channel program, is in Mobile this week filming a series of commercials for the job initiative Go Build Alabama.
For the second year, Rowe will be encouraging young people to join the state’s construction workforce, because at least a third of Alabama’s skilled tradesmen are older than 50 and retiring fast.
Trouble is, Rowe said, there are very few people replacing them. Nationwide, only one person is entering the skilled trades for every 4 retiring, industry officials estimate.
“We’re in this weird space where unemployment is huge and the skills gap continues,” Rowe said. “A lot of things we define as problems ... a decline in manufacturing ... are really symptoms, in my opinion, of our changing relationship with work.”
The TV host, who also helps sell Ford trucks and Lee jeans, spent much of Wednesday at the Mobile paving company Johnny Walton Construction, getting his boots dusty and his shirt smeared with clay while working with a crew between filming the public service announcements.
Created by the Alabama Construction Recruitment Institute, the Go Build campaign is designed to educate young people on the value of learning a trade. It’s meant to change perceptions about the construction industry and inspire residents to consider a career as a skilled construction worker.

rowe04.JPGDiscovery's "Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe

Faced with a growing shortage of skilled construction craftsmen and an aging construction labor workforce, the Alabama Legislature established ACRI in 2009. At the request of industry, state lawmakers established a funding mechanism for the institute, writing into law a fee based on wages paid for commercial and industrial construction jobs statewide.
John Montgomery, president of Birmingham-based BIG Communications, is working with ACRI and Rowe to spread the word about the abundance of good jobs that don’t require the traditional college route.
“There are really good career paths in the skilled construction trades out there,” Montgomery said. “The workforce will be eroding and they need young folks to step up and fill some of these great roles.”
Some of those roles have shown up on “Dirty Jobs.” Rowe said there have been almost 300 episodes of the program he created 8 years ago.
“We look for people who approach their trade with humor,” he said. “It’s nice to have examples of people who do whatever it takes to succeed.”

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