the Paper Ceiling
Millions of workers with in-demand skills and experience, overlooked for higher-wage jobs because they don’t have a bachelor’s degree. Companies stuck on a talent treadmill, desperate to build a reliable pipeline of skilled workers. Two allies separated by an insidious and invisible barrier. Now the enemy has a name. The paper ceiling.
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.
A labor market out of balance
Before the Paper Ceiling
Consider this. More than 70 million workers in the U.S. don’t have a college degree - that’s half the workforce. Not that long ago, these workers, now known as STARs for Skilled Through Alternative Routes, provided companies with a reliable pipeline of skilled talent. In exchange, companies provided a pathway to upward economic mobility for STARs. Together, STARs and companies built a thriving economy where both sides prospered.
An Invisible Barrier
Today, STARs and the companies who seek their skills and experience find themselves on opposite sides of an invisible barrier - the paper ceiling - separated by degree screens, algorithms, stereotypes, and even professional networks. The result has been a severe decline in STARs’ upward mobility, matched by a severe talent shortage as companies struggle to fill millions of 21st century jobs with skilled talent.
But the paper ceiling is not a force of nature beyond our control. It is the sum of institutional and individual choices that prioritized hiring shortcuts over real skills. Now, a movement has begun. Workers and companies uniting to create a new and more equitable future of work in which skills matter more than what’s on paper. A future that is back in balance, when both STARs and employers can thrive again. A future that starts by working together to tear the paper ceiling and see the STARs beyond it.
of New Jobs
Million Jobs Lost
The Paper Ceiling Disproportionately Affects STARs
When employers screen for a bachelor’s degree they exclude the majority of Black, Hispanic, rural, and veteran workers. Without attention to STARs, corporate diversity efforts simply cannot succeed.
of rural workers
of Hiring Managers
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
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.