Mike Rowe: Innovation is Growing the Skills Gap as Education Fills It

As we look at the world in which we live, we have the opportunity to see the effect of improvements that have come to society from the most creative minds that this world has to offer. Mike Rowe has been an innovator and free thinker who has become a leader in the industry. Below is an example of some of his important points that Mike Rowe made at one of our Ed Sessions held in Boise, Idaho – Filling the Skills Gap in Idaho.

Example: The Invention of the Car

Each time that we step into a car, it is nearly impossible to comprehend the amount of work that has gone into building such an essential, but complex machine. We first had to have the initial invention of the wheel thousands of years ago. It then took thousands of years to learn how to make the wheel useful and have longevity in its use. We had to learn of the need to use grease to lubricate wheel axels to extend their usefulness. Then as we fast forward into the future, we see the invention of the locomotive—where we gained the technology to turn heat from a coal-burning furnace into mechanical energy through a steam-driven piston system. This allowed society to travel faster than the speed of a horse from point A to point B. However, we were faced with limitations where we could only travel the along the main railroad tracks in the country. As we continued to innovate, we found that it became necessary for each of us to have our own means of travel where we each could go where we want, when we want, at the pace we desired. This then led to a great acceleration in emerging technologies that collectively led to the invention of the automobile.Mike Rowe The Ed Sessions

Education: Satisfying the Needs of Innovation

Soon after this innovation reached the general market, we saw workers in droves begin to manufacture automobiles at an unprecedented rate. Over the ensuing century, the automobile evolved from a luxury to a necessity for all who desired to be fully integrated into society. Since the time the first car came off of the manufacturing line, people have put a greater focus on finding new ways to improve the automobile as a whole. People began turning their educational pursuits towards this emerging technology. We began seeing new degrees offered by colleges and universities that were molded for careers to become automotive engineers, or automotive technicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 just over 700,000 people in the U.S. were automotive technicians or mechanics , and nearly an additional 50,000 were mechanical engineering technicians. Education now plays a huge role in the ability for mechanics and engineering technicians to perform their jobs properly. It is quite improbable that many of us would take our cars to a car shop where we know the main mechanic is uneducated. Yes, many can make it through the world of automotive repair without a great education, but that is becoming less and less common as cars become ever more electronic in all of their functions. As cars continue to improve, we will see that education continues to play a great role for those who wish to be involved in the automotive industry.

Mike Rowe: Filling the Skills Gap

Through the example above, where various inventions eventually led to the invention of the automobile and the eventual transformation of our general educational pursuits, we can see a pattern where we can look to see how innovations eventually shape our education. Three main points can be seen as we look at the model provided by the automobile and The Ed Sessions talk given by Mike Rowe in January of 2012:

  1. We need minds willing to improve. Each time that we look around, see our surroundings, and find things that could be improved, we are acting as a catalyst for change. Many people in history have come before us, and have done this very thing. Without these people, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy many of the luxuries that we have in life today.
  2. We need people who make ideas happen. An idea will always just stay an idea unless it is acted upon. Henry Ford is a famous example of making his idea of a car that could be afforded by the general American public a reality for everyone. He used the principle of the manufacturing line to reduce the costs associated with manufacturing, and he was able to accomplish his desired goal.
  3. We need education to fill the skills gap. This topic was the main focus of Mike Rowe’s talk at The Ed Sessions conference in Boise, Idaho in January of 2012. As we see improvements come to society through inventions and eventual innovations, an ever-growing skills gap arises. The car was a fairly simple machine to fix before the invention of the computer led to increasing computer automation in the function of cars. As the innovation of the car and the automobile have collided, the skills required to properly fix problems that arise in cars has grown considerably. Without the invention of the car, it is very apparent that there would be no need for an automotive technician or an automotive engineer. The better that we do at filling the skills gap with proper education, the greater potential for further inventions to continue to improve that which we have. If education lags far behind where we have reached technologically, then we won’t have room for further innovation. A literal block is created for further progression as we look at the need for improvement.

Mike Rowe Filling the Skills GapBringing Idaho Students to Meet the Challenge 

This is where The Ed Sessions is seeking to bring improvement in the educational system. We need our children to be adequately educated to enable innovations in society instead of block them. High-paying jobs are out there awaiting those who are willing to put forth the effort to become educated. We see now in the automotive industry that more and more time is being allocated towards research to bring further automation into the manufacturing process. People are being taken off of the manufacturing lines, and being put into offices to research the best ways to replace the people that are left on the lines. Education will continue to play a major role in this further expansion. People like Mike Rowe have great interest in our ability to fill this skills gap that continues to grow, and we must be persistent in doing so for our children to enjoy the lives that we hope for them to enjoy.