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Mike Rowe to speak at Casper College

A cut of Mike Rowe overplayed three times on a township and railroad map of Wyoming
Jordan Uplinger - Cram, George Franklin
Wyoming Public Radio / Library of Congress
Mike Rowe will be traveling to the cowboy state

Mike Rowe is best known for hosting Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs. The actor and founder of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation will be speaking at Casper College about the skills gap in America. Skills gap is a reference to the lack of opportunities or appreciation for Americans to learn trades or attend technical school.

“I'm convinced that we created an unnecessary problem, a forced error” said Rowe. “We didn't simply promote the benefits of a four year degree on its merits. We started telling a whole generation of kids, if they didn't do it this way, they'd wind up with some kind of vocational consolation prize.”

Rowe’s foundation looks to change that narrative. It’s done that by scholarships, pledges, and working with leaders and groups such as Casper College. Mr. Rowe states that mikeroweWORKS has helped nearly 2,000 people find jobs in trade fields and is looking to award $1,000,000 in scholarships this year.

“We award work ethic scholarships, because we wanted to make a case for hard work and skilled labor,“ said Rowe.

Rowe is speaking at Casper College because the institution also emphasizes the importance of trade jobs. The college boasts a number of two-year degrees and certificate programs for skilled trades. Rachel Chadderd, Dean of the Casper College School of Business and Industry, said Rowe’s work and Casper’s programs align perfectly, stating that ”Casper College provides the training needed to address the skills gap”.

With student loan payments beginning again, Rowe said he’s worried about another generation of young people falling into debt. However, a new approach to how Americans view labor in general may be the change the country needs.

“The fact that there are nearly 11 million open [employment] positions right now, most of which don't require a four year degree, worries me. $1.7 trillion in student loans on the books, worries me,” said Rowe. “If I don't go this way, then I'm going to be stuck, doing some kind of dirty job, or some kind of bad job? Well, look, what I've seen is that there are stigmas and stereotypes, myths and misperceptions that keep millions of people from exploring millions of careers in the skilled trades….I think those perceptions are a result of a lot of broad brush painting. So we're here to confront some of those stereotypes, and debunk them if we can.”.

Mike Rowe will be speaking at Casper College on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online.

Jordan Uplinger was born in NJ but has traveled since 2013 for academic study and work in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He gained experience in a multitude of areas, including general aviation, video editing, and political science. In 2021, Jordan's travels brought him to find work with the Wyoming Conservation Corps as a member of Americorps. After a season with WCC, Jordan continued his Americorps service with the local non-profit, Feeding Laramie Valley. His deep interest in the national discourse on class, identity, American politics and the state of material conditions globally has led him to his current internship with Wyoming Public Radio and NPR.
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