the Paper Ceiling

Workers with experience, skills, and diverse perspectives – held back by a silent limitation.

It’s time to tear the paper ceiling and see the world beyond it.

I pledge to shatter stereotypes and misconceptions and to see people for all of their experiences, skills, and diverse perspectives.

I pledge to recognize the untapped potential of the 70+ million American workers who are STARs – Skilled Through Alternative Routes – so they can flourish.

I pledge to tear the paper ceiling, to see the world beyond it, and to let STARs shine.

Sign the pledge to tear the paper ceiling

Let’s send a clear message that it’s time to tear the
paper ceiling.

Thanks for signing the pledge.

You’ve taken the first step in tearing the paper ceiling. Stay tuned for important updates, information and stories related to the campaign.

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Tear the Paper Ceiling with Skilled Credentials

Skilled credentials, such as certifications, microcredentials, and badges, are helping companies and STARs—workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes, rather than a bachelor’s degree—tear the paper ceiling.

Putting Skills to Work

Skilled credentials help workers signal knowledge, skills, and experience in a particular field. They can also be a valuable tool for employers making the shift to skills-first hiring (also referred to as skills-based hiring) by giving hiring decision makers the confidence to look beyond bachelor’s degrees and hire STARs, workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes.

According to the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM), skilled credentials, “take a relatively short time to complete, are focused on specific skills, can be earned consecutively (‘stacked’), are verifiable, are often aligned to industries and can frequently be delivered digitally.”

Skilled credentials are often associated with the tech sector, but are also common in data analytics, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, sales, administrative support, and more. They may be especially helpful in emerging fields where knowledge evolves rapidly and other learning pathways do not reflect the skills employers need.

of workers who hold a skilled credential believe it has helped them progress in their careers (01)
of executives agree that skilled credentials help diverse candidates during the hiring process (01)

The Paper Ceiling:

(n) the invisible barrier that comes at every turn for workers without a bachelor's degree.

See also: alumni network, biased algorithms, degree screens, stereotypes, and misconceptions.

STARs are workers who are 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.

We’re fortunate to have many organizations who offer skilled credentials as partners in our efforts to tear the paper ceiling.
They are all great places for STARs to look as they seek out skilled credential opportunities.