New Data Story

Shining a Light on STARs: the Essential Workers of COVID-19

New data story shows that two-thirds of essential workers are STARs (workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes) who have the skills to move into middle- and high-wage jobs.

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Opportunity@Work co-founder Karan Chopra writes: we shouldn’t chase economic recovery; we should chase economic redesign

STARs: Skilled Through Alternative Routes

Millions of Americans are locked out of better jobs simply because they lack a four-year degree. Yet these workers have skills that companies desperately need  – skills they developed through military service, in training programs, at community colleges, on the job, or through other alternatives to college. It’s time for more employers to recognize and value individuals who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs).

Learn more about STARs

We're re-wiring the labor market so that STARs can work, learn and earn to their full potential.

Our Approach

At Opportunity@Work, we envision a world where STARs have a fair chance to achieve the American Dream — with fulfilling jobs, rewarding careers, and better lives for themselves and their families.

Here’s how we’ll realize that vision:


We are awakening companies to the value of STARs’ talent. 

With a community of partners, we are gathering, sharing, and publishing data-driven insights that raise STARs’ visibility and change perceptions of workers without a four-year degree.

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We are connecting employers with STARs.

We are developing an online marketplace with matching and feedback capabilities so employers can more quickly identify trusted sources of job-seeking STARs and fill open roles more quickly.

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We are accelerating learning and investment in support of STARs.

We are inviting partners to share insights, and test solutions on behalf of STARs, sharing what we learn with the entire workforce development field. 

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Stay connected as we work to expand career opportunities for STARs!

Our Partners

Opportunity@Work appreciates the vital support from our partners and supporters.

Latest Updates

We shouldn’t chase economic recovery; we should chase economic redesign

America needs to think differently about the value of jobs during the coronavirus recovery, writes Karan Chopra.

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Shining a Light on STARS: the Essential Workers of COVID-19

STARs are our front line workers who stock our supermarkets with essentials, deliver our packages and groceries & care for people in hospitals and nursing homes.

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The Disparate Racial Impact of Requiring a College Degree

Our latest op-ed on the WSJ with HGSE’s Peter Blair explains employers can address systemic racism by changing their hiring and talent management practices to focus on job skills. 

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