A (work)force to be reckoned with.
STARs: Skilled Through Alternative Routes.
STARs also reflect our nation’s racial and cultural diversity:
of Black workers
of Latinx workers
of white workers
of rural Americans
Skilled for Higher-wage Work
Far too many employers assume that low wage means low skill, and that a bachelor’s degree is the only way to build job-relevant skills.
However, Opportunity@Work analyzed the skills content for nearly 900 U.S. occupations and found that the skills required for low-wage jobs often overlap with those needed for higher-wage jobs. In fact, millions of STARs have demonstrated skills for roles with at least 50% higher salaries than their current jobs.
Hitting the Paper Ceiling
Despite STARs demonstrating skills for higher-wage work, research by Opportunity@Work and others has shown that the paper ceiling has severely impacted STARs’ economic mobility.
Over the last 30 years, the wage gap between STARs and workers with bachelor’s degrees has doubled. Adjusted for inflation, STARs now actually earn less on average than they did in 1976. According to a 2022 study by Opportunity@Work, it takes more than 30 years on the job for STARs to earn the same wage that college graduates earn on day one of their careers.
Stories of STARs
Get inspired by stories of STARs and companies tearing the paper ceiling, then create a custom story card to share your own story on social media. Every story matters, especially yours.
See the world beyond the paper ceiling
Whether you’re a STAR, an employer, a workforce advocate, or anyone seeking to create a more equitable future, you can help tear the paper ceiling and see the world beyond it.
David Autor, “Skills, Education, and the Rise of Earnings Inequality among the Other 99 Percent,” Science, May 23 2014: Vol. 344, Issue 6186, pp. 843-851. David Autor, “Work of the Past, Work of the Future,” AEA Papers and Proceedings 2019, 109: 1–32.