STARs Insights Hero Image

STARs Insights

Uniting a community of partners to share data-driven insights that make STARs more visible.

Awakening Employers to the Value of STARs

As companies seek and develop talent to fill their open roles, they’re overlooking millions of workers who lack a four-year degree but have vital foundational and technical skills gained through work experience and training. These individuals Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs) represent a mostly untapped pool of talent for the American economy.

STARs have the potential to thrive in the middle- and high-wage jobs of the 21st century, but they’re mostly invisible in a culture that equates low-wage jobs with low skill.

Opportunity@Work and our partners believe that a common fact base and data-driven insights about STARs are critical to increasing their visibility and changing perceptions. Gathering these facts and insights will enable us to rally critical actors in workforce development – especially companies and their executives – around a common North Star: hiring more STARs into middle- and high-wage roles to meet 21st-century talent needs and begin reversing the real wage decline of this population.

Our STARs Insights Initiative

Because STARs is a new concept, significant analytical work is necessary to define and characterize who STARs are, identify and outline targeted middle-wage roles and career pathways, and establish a baseline to track and measure progress over time. To reach this goal, the STARs Insights Initiative will develop these resources:

Reach for the STARs

The Potential of America’s Untapped Talent Pool

Using public datasets to study the skills that workers gain on-the-job through work experience, our report defines a critical population of 71 million workers who are STARs. They have the skills and work experience to meet the talent needs of American businesses today.

Read more less Read more Read less

What You Will Learn:

STARs definition: STARs are the 71 million working-age individuals in the United States who do not have a four-year degree and have a high school diploma. All STARs have skills to perform higher-wage work. 

STARs demographics: STARs represent every geography and demographic of the U.S. workforce; 50% of African Americans, 44% of Hispanics and 55% of Veterans are STARs.

STARs segments: There are 5 million “Shining” STARs who are in high-wage roles, 30 million “Rising STARs” who have the skills to move into a role paying, on average, 70% more than their current wages, and 36 million “Forming STARs,” who demonstrate foundational skills on the job that could result in wage gains of at least 10%. 

STARs Profiles: Profiles of STARs share the barriers these workers face to achieving their potential.profile demonstrate the power of training, access, and opportunity to advance these STARs in their career journeys.

Navigate with the STARs

This report will identify and quantify the middle-wage jobs viable for STARs candidates. It will detail the proportion of these jobs currently filled by STARs as well as the number of jobs that could be filled by STARs if they were given access and opportunity.

Coming in mid-2020

STARs Data Community

The STARs Data Community will be an online portal of published work on STARs, a collaboration forum for the community of scholars and analysts focused on STARs, and eventually a data collaborative for private and public data sets on STARs.

Coming in early 2020

STARs Insights Advisory Panel

The STARs Insights Advisory Panel provides expert guidance for the Insights initiative. Chaired by Dr. Erica Groshen, former Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the panel comprises advisors with experience in labor economics, workforce development, the future of work, and related topics across the public, private, and academic sectors.  

  • Erica Groshen's Photo'

    Erica Groshen

    Former Commissioner, Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Peter Q. Blair's Photo'

    Peter Q. Blair

    Assistant Professor, Harvard University
  •  Chandra Childers's Photo'

    Chandra Childers

    Study Director, Institute for Women's Policy Research
  • Martin Fleming 's Photo'

    Martin Fleming

    Chief Economist, IBM
  • Martha Gimbel's Photo'

    Martha Gimbel

    Economist, Schmidt Futures
  • Michael Strain 's Photo'

    Michael Strain

    Director of Economic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
  • Keith Wardrip 's Photo'

    Keith Wardrip

    Community Manager, Philadelphia Federal Reserve


Our partners help inform and guide the Opportunity@Work team on the analytic and qualitative work on STARs.