I recently watched a video interview by Mike Rowe with one of his mikeroweWORKS Scholarship recipients (posted above). If you haven’t heard of Rowe’s scholarship program, you should definitely check it out. It is specifically for tradesmen and women. Here’s a snippet of the conversation that really struck a chord.
Rowe: What do we do to reinvigorate the trades?
Nolee Anderson, mikeroweWORKS Scholarship recipient and carpenter by trade: We have to find a way to convince our culture and our society that blue-collar work is not underachiever work and it’s not unskilled labor—it’s called “skilled labor.” It’s right there in the title. [People think] you go to trade school ’cause you can’t make it in the real world or you go to trade school cause you didn’t do well in high school and you won’t do well in college, and that’s just so false, so incorrect.
This is why I am writing a series of children’s books on the trades—because change starts with the next generation. In order for the next generation to change its perception of work and for the trades to be reinvigorated, kids must be taught that “blue-collar work is not underachiever work,” like Anderson said.
In an interview with Powerline Podcast, “American Lineman” author Alan Drew said, ““If you look through history...you won’t find much about the linemen...you’re gonna read more about the inventors.”
What a shame. Of course, we all appreciate guys like Ben Franklin and Nikola Tesla for paving the way to electricity, but what would electricity be without the men and women who built—and to this day maintain—thousands of miles of lines? We give kudos to the engineers who draw up the plans, but many have forgotten that before engineers got involved, linemen just built power poles. My husband, “Spanky the Lineman,” has replaced poles dating back to the 1920s! That pole stood for 100 years and was built by a lineman. Sure, an engineer may have told the linemen the size and class of the pole that needed to be built, but everything else was and still is left in the capable hands and brains of the linemen—the skilled laborer.