New Documentary Chronicles Surprising Paths to Career Success Outside the Traditional Four-Year Degree Framework

March 29, 2019

Roadtrip Nation documentary “Skill Powered” premiers on public television, follows three young adults taking non-traditional pathways to skilled careers

COSTA, MESA, CALIF. (March 29, 2019) — Roadtrip Nation, creators of the award-winning PBS series, today premiered “Skill Powered,” a one-hour documentary special profiling surprising career outcomes for young people on the path to fulfilling careers through alternative educational pathways.

The film follows -- Shyane, Alexander, and Ryan -- three young adults on a cross-country trip from Los Angeles to Miami in Roadtrip Nation’s signature green RV as they interview everyone from woodworkers to aviation experts with unusual career trajectories. Presented by NPR member affiliate KQED, “Skill Powered” will air nationally on public television stations starting on March 29 and is available to watch online at

“Roadtrip Nation has always been about finding your road the way you think is right. For some, that means the traditional path through college, but there are any number of diverse pathways that young people can take to find their dream career,” said Mike Marriner, president and co-founder of Roadtrip Nation. “We wanted to explore what it’s like for people who’ve found fulfilling careers in skilled jobs that are attainable with a certification or on-the-job training. This documentary shows that fulfilling lives and careers are built in many different ways. We’re grateful to be able to bring these stories to life.”

From running audio for the Blue Man Group to creating carnivals for the future, the documentary features everyday people working in different cities, who have found pathways to career opportunity and personal fulfillment through a range of educational pathways. The roadtrippers cross paths with GE Aviation technical associates Cedric Hall and Christine Moses; lead engineer of Two Bit Circus Dan Busby; founder of Grove Scuba Bill Lamp’l; Caesars Palace executive chef Leticia Nunez, as well as other inspiring individuals.
Whether they wind up going to college, technical school, or acquire on-the job training, the roadtrippers learn career opportunities and personal fulfillment are available in all sorts of places. Through firsthand stories and engaging interviews, the documentary follows the roadtrippers as they get insights into varying industries and reflect on their own career paths.

  1. Shyane is ready to take off in a million directions, and she knows she needs guidance. Right now, her sights are set on working on a cruise ship—but there’s nothing she wouldn’t try.
  2. Alexander wants to work in the outdoors. He has a college degree—but without more applied training, he’s feeling lost. When he's in the natural world, he starts to feel a sense of direction.
  3. Ryan’s parents didn’t work in the trades, but it’s the memory of visiting his dad, stuck in a cubicle at work, that made Ryan certain he didn’t want to be in an office. One day, he hopes to start a small business with friends.

All of these roadtrippers set out to prove you can live a great life by working in skilled jobs, hearing stories and learning about many paths they can take to find fulfillment in their own lives and careers. After returning, they found themselves with far more clarity regarding their own futures than when they began.

The documentary was made possible with support from Penn Foster, a middle skills training platform with a social impact mission, and Strada Education Network, a national nonprofit that combines philanthropy with impact investing to advance its vision of completion with a purpose.

“For more than a century, we’ve understood the power of training, coaching, and mentorship to bridge the gap between education and economic opportunity. You might even say we were skill-forward before it was cool,” said Frank Britt, CEO of Penn Foster. “Today, the world of work is changing more quickly than ever, and new approaches to education will play a critical role in closing opportunity gaps in fast-growing middle-skill fields. Shyane, Alexander, and Ryan are an inspiring testament to the ways that skill-forward training can help workers and job-seekers around the country chart their course in life.”

“By focusing on the power of storytelling and listening to the skilled workers that power America, Roadtrip Nation has created yet another invaluable resource for young adults who are in the process of exploring and finding their career passions,” said William D. Hansen, president and CEO of Strada Education Network. “‘Skill Powered’ is a powerful testimonial showing that every job – and every potential educational pathway – can have value and merit.”

To learn more about “Skill Powered,” visit You can also learn more about the film by following @RoadtripNation, @PennFoster, and @stradaeducation on Twitter.

About Roadtrip Nation

“What should I do with my life?” Since 2001, Roadtrip Nation has made it their mission to help individuals answer this question. Through best-selling books, an acclaimed documentary series, and interactive classroom curricula, Roadtrip Nation empowers people to turn what they like into careers they’ll love—and helps them navigate any obstacles encountered along the way. For more information, visit

About Penn Foster

Penn Foster is bridging the gap between education and economic opportunity to build the workforce of tomorrow. We partner with employers to design and deliver digital and blended learning programs that attract, upskill, and retain workers in America's fastest-growing fields and professions. Penn Foster helps individuals discover pathways to opportunity through accredited diploma, certificate and degree programs that matter in the world of work. For more information, visit or

About Strada Education Network
Strada Education Network is a national nonprofit dedicated to improving lives by catalyzing more direct and promising pathways between education and employment. The Network engages partners across education, nonprofits, business and government to focus relentlessly on students’ success throughout all phases of their working lives. Together, they address critical college to career challenges through strategic philanthropy, research and insights, and mission-aligned affiliates — all focused on advancing the universal right to realized potential called Completion With a Purpose®. Learn more at

About KQED

KQED serves the people of Northern California with a public-supported alternative to commercial media. An NPR and PBS affiliate based in San Francisco, KQED is home to one of the most listened-to public radio stations in the nation, one of the highest-rated public television services and an award-winning education program helping students and educators thrive in 21st-century classrooms. A trusted news source and leader and innovator in interactive technology, KQED takes people of all ages on journeys of exploration — exposing them to new people, places and ideas.

About APT

American Public Television (APT) is the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations. For more than 10 years, APT has annually distributed one-third or more of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles in the U.S. Founded in 1961, among its 250 new program titles per year, APT programs include prominent documentaries, performance, news and current affairs programs, dramas, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies. “America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated,” “Cook’s Country,” “AfroPoP,” “Rick Steves’ Europe,” “Chris Kimball’s Milk Street Television,” “Front and Center,” “Doc Martin,” “Nightly Business Report,” “Midsomer Murders,” “A Place to Call Home,” “Lidia’s Kitchen,” “Globe Trekker,” “New Orleans Cooking with Kevin Belton,” “Simply Ming,” and “P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home” are a sampling of APT’s programs, considered some of the most popular on public television APT licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. Entering its 13th year, Create®TV — featuring the best of public television's lifestyle programming — is distributed by American Public Television. APT also distributes WORLDTM, public television’s premier news, science and documentary channel. To find out more about APT’s programs and services, visit

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