ORLANDO, Fla. - Grainger, a leading distributor of facilities maintenance supplies, has kicked off a partnership with Mike Rowe, creator, executive producer, and host of Discovery Channel’s TV show “Dirty Jobs.” In his role as a Grainger spokesperson, Rowe is featured on the cover of the company’s 2009 catalog and is making appearances on behalf of the company. Rowe is also partnering with Grainger in raising awareness about the importance of technical education and the growing shortage of skilled workers.

“Mike is an excellent fit for Grainger because like many of our customers, he knows what it means to roll up your sleeves and do the tough jobs that make life easier, safer, and cleaner for us all,” said Jim Ryan, president and CEO, Grainger. “He’s a strong advocate of our country’s industrial and skilled workforce, and he understands the importance of preparing young people for careers in the trades, especially as Baby Boomers prepare to retire.”

Grainger said that both the company and Rowe are committed to raising awareness about the widening gap between the supply of skilled workers and the growing technical demands of today’s workplace. Grainger is committed through its Tools for Tomorrow® scholarship program. Through mikeroweworks.com, Rowe will create an online information resource about the skilled worker shortage and a destination for those exploring careers in the trades.

“The people at Grainger have always known the importance of ‘getting it done’ for their customers,” said Rowe. “It’s with that same passion and enthusiasm that together we can help call attention to the importance of skilled labor.”

Grainger and Rowe co-hosted a panel discussion in Orlando, Fla., to raise awareness about the growing shortage of skilled workers. As Baby Boomers retire, industry experts predict over the next 10 years major skilled labor shortages across North America in areas including HVAC and welding. The panel brought together local industry experts from organizations such as Orlando’s Valencia Community College and the Academy of Construction Technologies to share information on what’s currently being done to address the need, and discuss how to collectively make an impact going forward. The dialogue highlighted the many facets of this issue, including the need to educate young people and their parents on the career opportunities available in technical fields. The panel also stressed the importance of businesses and educators partnering on a local level to prepare students of all ages for the jobs of the future.

Grainger also announced that it will be reinforcing its commitment to technical education by more than doubling its Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program. Launched in 2006, the program, which is jointly sponsored with the American Association of Community Colleges, awards selected students enrolled in community colleges across the country with a $2,000 award to finish their trade program. Students also receive a customized Westward® toolkit upon successful program completion. In 2009, Grainger will significantly expand the program to award 100 scholarships to students across the country.

For more information, visit www.grainger.com.

Publication date:02/09/2009