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Mike Rowe on Rising Number of Gen Zers Choosing Trade School Over College

Photo from Mike Rowe’s Instagram

Mike Rowe on Rising Number of Gen Zers Choosing Trade School Over College

By Movieguide® Contributor

DIRTY JOBS’ Mike Rowe is detailing the “shift” from universities to trade schools as many young people decide the rising cost of college isn’t worth it. 

“I think we’re going to be entering a whole new time, where the smart money is going to be,” Rowe said during an interview with Fox Business, encouraging young people to “Go to a trade school and then learn a trade.”

The numbers match Rowe’s opinion—“Community colleges offering vocational programs witnessed one of the highest numbers of student enrollment in fall 2023,” Newsweek reported

Jennifer Causey, a senior research associate at the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, told the publication, “Since Fall 2021, vocational programs have started to see upticks in enrollments, and specific program families such as Mechanic Repair Technologies grew 11.2 percent this fall alone.”

“People are starting to pay attention,” Rowe continued. “It’s a bit like turning a tanker around. You’re talking about perceptions and attitudes, stigmas, stereotypes, all sorts of things. People in a lot of ways need to be deprogrammed about this idea that the best path for most people is a four-year degree, coincidentally, the most expensive path.”

He continued, “We talk about [college] in terms of an investment, but people are starting to smell a rat there, too. I think more and more people are starting to look at that diploma on the wall and seeing it for what it actually is, which is a receipt.”

“I think Gen Z is just starting to realize they’ve been pushed in a direction that, frankly, doesn’t lead to a place they want to go,” Rowe concluded. 

In an interview with NewsNation, Rowe explained that the decrease in vocational programs “started with a lack of appreciation for the artistry in the work.”

“That was fueled by a whole lot of financial concerns, and that was driven by a lot of well-intended parents and guidance counselors who wanted to get kids on ‘a better path,’” he continued. “That was a powerful message. It resonated with a whole generation of kids and today, you don’t have to be an economist to look around and see $1.7 trillion in outstanding student loans on the books, 10 million open jobs—most of which don’t require a four-year degree, but training—and we’re still out there behind this crazy message.”

Movieguide® previously reported on Rowe’s thoughts on young people’s growing dissatisfaction with the cost of college:

A longtime proponent of trade careers, Mike Rowe explained why it is positive that younger generations are placing less of an emphasis on receiving a college education.

“The parents and guidance counselors truly believe that the best path for their kids is the most expensive path,” Rowe told Tucker Carlson. “But the latest research, when you really sit people down and take a deep dive…Gen Z right now is ranking the importance of a college education out of 50 different things at 47.”

“It used to be three…It made me wonder, has something shifted in that generation that I just haven’t seen, and I’m hopeful that it has,” he continued. “People are starting to get the message that just because you’ve got $200,000 in debt and a nice diploma doesn’t mean the world is going to beat a pathway to your door. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get hired in your chosen field.”

“[It] doesn’t mean anything at all,” he added. “Except for the fact that you owe $200,000, right? That’s what it means.”

“Kids have been told from the cradle they are screwed without…a four-year degree. They believe it. They look around and see it reinforced,” he told Fox Business. However, “You meet enough of those people [in debt], you see enough of it with your own eyes, and pretty soon, the evidence just demands a verdict.”

“I am not anti-college,” he added. “I am just anti-cookie cutter advice.”

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4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.