Lack of shop classes is why we’re $1.6T in student debt: Mike Rowe

Rising student loan debt is becoming more and more of an epidemic in the U.S.

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"Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney students continue to choose the expensive career path when there’s excessive demand for blue-collar workers. According to Rowe, there are currently millions of jobs out there that do not require a college degree.

"We have unintendedly maligned an entire section of our workforce by promoting one form of education ... at the expense of all of the other forms."

- Mike Rowe, 'Dirty Jobs' host

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“Forty years ago, colleges needed a PR campaign,” Rowe said. “We needed more people to get into higher education ... We told people, 'If you don't get your degree, you're going to wind up turning a wrench.'"

As a result, alternative education was pushed aside and led to the removal of shop classes nationwide, Rowe said.

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Students walk on University of Kansas campus. Oct. 24, 2019 (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

“The skills gap today, in my opinion, is a result of the removal of shop class and the repeated message that the best path for most people happens to be the most expensive path,” he said.

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“This is why, in my opinion, we have $1.6 trillion of student loans on the books, 7.3 million open positions, most of which don't require a four-year degree.”

- Mike Rowe, 'Dirty Jobs' host

Rowe said there’s a large disconnect in education by rewarding behavior that should be discouraged.

“We're lending money we don't have to kids who are never going to be able to pay it back to train them for jobs that don't exist anymore,” he said. “That’s nuts.”

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