By this point, it’s no secret that the labor shortage is hurting the pool and spa industry and the greater world of trade work. There just simply aren’t enough people interested in filling these positions despite the fact that trade work provides stable, fulfilling work, career growth and financial reward.

Mike Rowe, host of “Dirty Jobs,” thinks it’s a PR problem — and he’s stepping in to help. The mikeroweWORKS Foundation, established in 2008, is an organization dedicated to promoting the values of, and spreading appreciation for, trade jobs and the people who occupy those positions. 

“Over the last 30 years, America has convinced itself that the best path for the most people is an expensive, four-year degree. Pop culture has glorified the ‘corner office job’ while unintentionally belittling the jobs that helped build the corner office,” the Foundation says.

The Foundation also seeks to put its money where its mouth is by awarding scholarships to those who wish to pursue work in the trades. Since its inception, the Work Ethic Scholarship Program has awarded/facilitated $5 million to more than 1,000 recipients.

To apply, applicants must enroll in an approved program, write an essay and supply references, among other steps. They’re also required to sign the S.W.E.A.T Pledge (Skill & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo), a document of 12 principles and values the mikeroweWORKS Foundation holds. Just a few include:

  • "I believe that I have won the greatest lottery of all time. I am alive. I walk the Earth. I live in America. Above all things, I am grateful."
  • "I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is."
  • "I understand the world is not fair, and I'm OK with that. I do not resent the success of others."

(If the S.W.E.A.T Pledge speaks to you, you can buy a poster to hang around the break room.)

While the Work Ethic Scholarship Program does not currently include pool and spa industry-specific programs among its approved program list, it does include related work: construction, electrical technology, heavy equipment operation, plumbing and more.

The 2019 scholarship is currently underway, and is accepting applications through March 28.