Navigate with the STARs: Reimagining Equitable Pathways to Mobility

The COVID-19 crisis lays bare the deficiencies in our labor market. STARs comprise two thirds of our essential workforce and yet they continue to experience the decades-long trends in wage decline and limited upward mobility.  We must reimagine our approach to our workforce to achieve an equitable recovery.

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Implications and Call to Action

Our research underscores inequities in the labor market that harm workers, but it also shows a way forward. With intention, we can broaden pathways and facilitate STARs access to higher paying jobs.

  1. 01

    Leverage your jobs to open pathways

    Each employer can take action based on the jobs and skills deployed in your business. 

    If you are an employer with many origin jobs, define a skills-based pathway to higher wage work for your own STARs.
    Understand where your workers could go next in the local labor market.  Consider the skills they demonstrate on the job and how can those skills be deployed for mobility in the broader local labor market.


    If you are an employer with many middle wage roles, open those roles to STARs.
    Understand the origin jobs in your local market where workers are developing and demonstrating the skills you most need in your roles. Define a skills-based pathway into your jobs that is accessible to STARs in your local labor market.


    If you are an employer with a new-to-world role, design this role to facility entry for STARs.
    Assess the skills needed for this new-to-world role and compare it to high volume origin roles.  Identify the jobs that can serve as feeders for your new-to-world role, based on skill similarity, and build a pathway based on those skills.

  1. 02

    Contribute to the infrastructure for promising pathways

    Work with the other stakeholders in your workforce ecosystem to support promising pathways.

    Partner with other employers.
    Work together to facilitate job transitions for STARs across companies and industries.


    Invest in training partners.
    Partner with and support training and skilling entities like community colleges, bootcamps, nonprofit organizations, who support STARs in their skill building efforts. 


    Collaborate with workforce entities.
    Work with the workforce development organizations in your area to ensure that STARs have the information and resources they need to access these pathways. 


    Support local services.
    Fund the wraparound services, such as childcare and transportation, to minimize barriers to work and support the stability needed for upward mobility.

  1. 03

    Update your employee value proposition

    Revise your core talent acquisition and retention strategy to ensure mobility for your workers. 

    Conduct your own skills similarity analysis.
    Look across jobs in your company and your community.  


    Audit your workforce.
    Account for the educational attainment, race, and gender makeup of your workforce. Set targets for STAR mobility.  


    Set the expectation.
    Tell your workers that they have a path to higher wages by coming to work for you.

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