A pep rally at Dubiski Career High School in Grand Prairie featured a famous guest and lots of money this morning. Mike Rowe, the star of Dirty Jobs and the Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, got the students cheering for technical education.
There’s no football team or cheerleaders at Dubiski Career High School. The responsibility of getting the students fired up fell to Peter John Holt, a great-great grandson of the founder of the heavy machinery company HOLT CAT.
“Don‘t let anybody tell you that being a diesel technician is anything less than being a professor or a historian. You are solving the nation’s crisis right now," he said.
Without a gymnasium, students gathered in the school parking lot for the pep rally, as a highway hummed in the background. J.K. Baxter, a senior vice president at HOLT CAT, has open jobs that he wants filled by young people from Texas.
“It involves things like electronics, hydraulics, diesel engines, HVAC. We understand that this education is expensive—they don’t hand this out for free,” he said.
Baxter then handed out a giant check for $10,000 for more technical training at Dubiski, and said HOLT CAT will spend a million more in Texas high schools.
Drawing Young People Toward Careers in Trades
HOLT CAT is among the many corporations with a strong interest in making the trades more appealing to young people. Television personality Mike Rowe took up the challenge, and drove into the pep rally in a Caterpillar front loader. He told the kids they were preparing for great jobs.
“The country is full of people who are disconnected from work, disconnected from skill, and you aren’t. That makes you super cool,” Rowe said.
Rowe has made a career of celebrating blue collar work on television.
Modern society’s obsession with sending every kid to college is misguided, he said. “Blue collar and white collar are two sides of the same coin, and as soon as we view one as more valuable than the other, we’ll have infrastructure that falls down, we’ll have a skills gap,” he said.
The Texas state legislature is also worried about this skills gap, and overhauled the high school curriculum in April to try to get more students ready for technical careers.
Back in the school’s auto shop after the pep rally, Emanuel Macias, a senior at Dubiski and an intern at HOLT CAT, said has learned a lot from his technical training.
“You rotate throughout the shops, and then your senior year you tell them what you want to do. I wanted to work on cars, but then I transitioned to tractors, and I loved it. I fell in love with it,” he said.
Emanuel is thinking about college, but mostly hopes to become a lead technician on heavy machinery. Maybe it’s not Silicon Valley or Wall Street, but it is a stable career with benefits and at least one attractive booster on television.