What was the last book you’ve purchased for your office? Was it the ASTM Compilation of Masonry Standards? Or was it the just-released Masonry Bracing Guidelines. My last purchase was The Handbook of Construction Tolerances.

Even in this digital world, we self-define ourselves by the tomes we have placed in our bookshelves and on our desks.  Many of us treasure our technical guides and management books. But now I’m urging you to add a recently published book that may change your opinion on our industry’s future.

Profoundly Disconnected describes the true story of one man's evolving relationship with skilled labor. According to its author, if more people understood the impact of skilled labor on their lives, support for the training and development of strong workforce would be stronger.

I received my copy last week at ConExpo when Caterpillar invited me to meet Mike Rowe, the book’s author. I rarely watch television, so I’ve never watched Rowe’s show on the Discovery’s Channel,  Dirty Jobs. I really had no idea of who he was, or what to expect.

Rowe spoke at the press conference for about 30 minutes, about the misconception that parents have about the importance of a vocational education. He provided examples from his life experiences and interviews with hard-working craftsmen have not only made a great career for themselves.

Rowe was engaging and funny. But I sensed that behind the façade of the actor, there was a genuine commitment to a cause that is important to me. And when I read the book over the weekend, I knew he meant his words of support for vocational education.

Rowe wrote Profoundly Disconnected as a fund raising activity for the mikeroweWORKS Foundation. The foundation is concerned with promoting hard work and supporting the skilled trades in a variety of areas. Primarily, they award scholarships to young men and women who have illustrated both an interest and an aptitude around mastering a specific trade. Qualified candidates include those students who want to advance their education through an accredited trade school or apprenticeship program, exhibit high work ethic and need financial assistance.

The Foundation supports SkillsUSA by covering travel costs for competing students who could otherwise not afford to attend. We also provide tool stipends for top students that have graduated from accredited AED schools.

For a better part of two decades, I’ve heard everyone state that the key to the masonry industry’s future is developing a strong youthful workforce.  And as the industry rebounds and expands, it’s time for your renewed support for vocational education.

For about $20, you’ll not only receive an insightful book, you’ll be supporting that construction trade’s future by helping a young student enter a trade. And by placing the book on your desk, you’ll be reminding everyone that a strong vocational educational system is key to our industry’s survival.

You can purchase Profoundly Disconnected at www.mikerowebooks.com.

To view Mike Rowe Speaking at Pre Show Caterpillar Press Event at Conexpo 2014, click here.