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Tear the Paper Ceiling with Skills-Based Hiring

Find resources and take action to hire STARs - workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes.

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Skills are the currency of the labor market

Skills-based hiring, sometimes called “skills-first” hiring, can help employers increase the size of their talent pools to find quality applicants for hard-to-fill roles. It also levels the playing field for the 50% of workers who are STARs - Skilled Through Alternative Routes rather than a bachelor’s degree.

Hiring practices that rely on bachelor’s degree screens, narrow recruiting sources, or personal referrals helped create the paper ceiling. Today these practices, and others like them, perpetuate the paper ceiling, leading companies to exclude a massive pool of quality candidates for roles that pay at least $40,000 per year in growing fields like healthcare, information technology, customer service and more. They also disproportionately affect STARs, keeping millions of workers with in-demand skills from climbing the economic ladder.

In contrast, skills-based hiring focuses on a candidate's demonstrated skills and competencies. A skills-first approach starts with rewriting a job description to focus on on the skills required for a job instead of focusing on unrelated educational requirements. Companies then use a variety of skills assessments to identify the ideal candidate, from hard-skill evaluations like coding tests, to “job auditions,” like case studies. By leveling the playing field for STARs, who include the majority of Black (61%), Hispanic (55%) and rural (66%) workers, skills-based hiring practices also enable companies to embrace the richness of our nation’s racial and cultural diversity.

Justin, STAR

Skills-Based Hiring on the Rise

A study from Harvard Business School and Lightcast, found that a growing number of companies are taking a skills-first approach to hiring. Employers like Accenture, IBM, and the State of Maryland are removing degree requirements, sourcing candidates from talent developers who focus on STARs, and building pathways for internal mobility so that the STARs they already employ can move into higher-wage, and often, hard-to-fill roles. 

Consider the career trajectory from cashier to customer service representative to a business-to-business salesperson: each role builds on the skills needed for the previous role, and each offers higher wages and more opportunities for growth. This is just one example where skills-based hiring can help identify overlooked talent, while enabling upward mobility. 

The resources below include research, guides, and other tools to help you identify and act upon similar opportunities within your company. Whether you’re ready to post a job on Stellarworx, the STARs talent marketplace, want to make the case for a STARs-focused talent strategy to your HR team, or need a primer on skills-based hiring, these resources can help you tear the paper ceiling and see the STARs beyond it.

STAR

STARs are All Around Us

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.

Employer Resource Library

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Connecting Youth & Business

Connecting Youth & Business

A toolkit to guide employers, step-by-step, on working with opportunity youth.

Gap Foundation

Tools

Connecting Youth & Business

Connecting Youth & Business

Leading to higher-wage jobs

Leading to higher-wage jobs

Research findings identifying the career pathways that allow workers to move up.

McKinsey & Company

Research Report

Leading to higher-wage jobs

Leading to higher-wage jobs

Actions to advance your DE&I Strategy

Actions to advance your DE&I Strategy

Research finds that 10 specific tactics are particularly effective at advancing DE&I.

Grads for Life

Research Report

Actions to advance your DE&I Strategy

Actions to advance your DE&I Strategy

Opportunity Navigator

Opportunity Navigator

Tool to create a customized road map for achieving business and social impact.

Grads of Life and Talent Rewire

Tools

Opportunity Navigator

Opportunity Navigator

Alternative Credentials in Hiring

Alternative Credentials in Hiring

Report of survey study of 500 U.S. executives re: employment processes.

SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management)

Research Report

Alternative Credentials in Hiring

Alternative Credentials in Hiring

Changing Face of Apprenticeships

Changing Face of Apprenticeships

Research shows how apprenticeships are a solution to bridge the gap.

Lightcast & Opportunity@Work

Research Report

Changing Face of Apprenticeships

Changing Face of Apprenticeships

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