the Paper Ceiling
Workers with experience, skills, and diverse perspectives are being held back by a silent barrier. It’s time to tear the paper ceiling and see the world beyond it.
There’s a flaw in the labor market
The paper ceiling: (n) the invisible barrier that comes at every turn for workers without a bachelor’s degree. See also: no alumni network, biased algorithms, degree screens, stereotypes, and misconceptions.
The paper ceiling holds back more than 70 million workers in the U.S. who are STARs - Skilled Through Alternative Routes, rather than through a bachelor’s degree. They’re the 50% of the workforce that has developed valuable skills through military service, community college, training programs, partial college completion, or, most commonly, on-the-job experience.
It’s time to tear the paper ceiling and see the world beyond it. Where "qualified" means qualities, not just degrees. A world where untapped potential gets to flourish. STARs are all around us. It’s time to let them shine.
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Explore resources for STARs
Discover job search tools, find talent developer programs, or browse our library of support resources to help advance your career.
Explore resources for companies
Download our free guide for employers, post a job targeting STARs, and browse our library of support resources to help you begin tearing the paper ceiling.
Learn more about the 70+ million workers in the U.S. being held back by silent barriers, like bachelor's degree screens. Expanding your strategy to include a focus on workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs) can help your organization create a more resilient, equitable, and diverse labor market for all.
There’s a growing body of research about workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs), but much more is needed. The STARs research community includes scholars across economics, public policy, data science, and organizational behavior who are studying questions to help understand impediments to—and opportunities for—STARs’ wage mobility.
More than half the workforce is being left behind. Improving economic mobility for workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs) can also advance efforts to reduce poverty, improve education, or address other systemic social issues. Learn more about STARs and how their needs intersect with your philanthropic goals.