Mike Rowe Explains What ‘Skills Gap’ Says About America

by Jon D. B.

Mike Rowe proves he has his finger on the pulse of America once again as he breaks down the politics of the “skills gap.” Speaking to former NFL QB Jay Cutler on his Uncut with Jay Cutler podcast, the Dirty Jobs icon tackles the issue head-on.

Through the trials of the past few years, our job market has become paramount to the American conversation. Millions went (and still are) without work during the COVID Pandemic. And, according to Mike Rowe, the issue requires that Americans take an honest look at the direction of the country.

“That’s the thing about the skills gap that is most interesting to me. 11 million open positions forces people to say, ‘Well, what does that actually say about the country?’ ” Rowe says.

While the “gap” compels all Americans to evaluate the overarching problem, Rowe knows that many will view the issue through their own lens. Specifically, they’ll view it through the lens of their own political leanings.

“My buddies on the Left would say, ‘Well it says all employers are greedy and rapacious capitalists who don’t offer a fair wage,'” Rowe says. “And my buddies on the right would say, ‘Well that means all employees are lazy and shiftless. And would just as soon sit on their a** than pick up a shovel.'”

Despite polarized opinions on the matter, he acknowledges that reality likely lies somewhere in the middle. “There’s truth in both, but you’re painting with an awfully broad brush,” Rowe says.

Mike Rowe Addresses Issues With ‘Words’ in American Politics

In addition to speaking on the “skills gap,” Rowe diagnoses a broader problem plaguing politics in the country: language.

When it really comes down to it, the 59-year-old TV host says the “words” we use are only serving to deepen the divide in the country. “It goes back to the words. Because I think most disagreements start with confusion around the language,” he says.

Rowe doesn’t see the problem as a one-sided issue either. He believes both the left and right have ceded ground in the battle on words. “I’m amazed at what both sides have given up.”

For example, Rowe says, “Why would the Right allow the Left to own terms like ’empathy’? And ‘kindness?’ Why just give up and advocate that?” He continues, “Likewise, why would the Left allow ‘work ethic’ to become a dog whistle? Or ‘personal responsibility?’ Or ‘delayed gratification?'”

It’s as complex an issue as any that we face. And not just on a political level, but also in our business and personal lives. “Why do companies like Korn Ferry and Lockheed Martin have lists of problematic words that, at least they used to be, universally empowering? Why would you want to give up the importance of an individual having some personal responsibility? But the Left has. They’ve said ‘No, no, when people talk about that it’s just code for ‘you’re lazy,'” he says. “And likewise on the Right!”