There are more than 70 million STARs–workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes, rather than through a bachelor’s degree–in the American workforce. They include millions of Black STARs who have the skills employers seek to fill in-demand jobs, and yet these workers are missing from talent pipelines.
Of the 17 million Black workers active in the U.S. labor market, 11 million are STARs–65% of all Black workers and 7% of the overall workforce.
Employers cannot find the diverse talent they need to meet emerging market needs without taking account of Black STARs.
Our STAR Mobility Index allows us to compare Black STARs’ opportunities for economic mobility across regions, using measures of economic mobility, equity, and security. The areas that present the most opportunity for Black STARs are those where Black STARs live in lower numbers, while many areas with a higher share of Black STARs offer them less mobility.
There’s a remarkable concentration of Black workers in 25 specific jobs. These jobs are disproportionately low-wage; only two of these jobs pay above the national median hourly wage.
These jobs are not low-value or low-skill. A number of essential jobs–truck drivers, home health aides, and cashiers–have become increasingly important and harder to fill.
STARs have transferable skills that position them for jobs that employers are eager to fill. Half of Black STARs are demonstrating skills on the job that position them for higher wage work right now.
About one third of the Black STARs are in jobs we call Gateway jobs–middle- and high-wage jobs that offer access to other good jobs, as illustrated here.
This sales pathway is traveled by thousands of STARs annually as they move from common entry-level jobs in retail sales and food service, through a Gateway job like sales worker supervisor, and into higher-paying jobs as managers.
As the proportion of Black STARs in each job shows, there is a drop-off in Black workers along the pathways.
The structural inequities reflected in this data diminish the pool of talent for employers and undermine the economic mobility of Black STARs. The concentration of black STARs into 25 jobs, however, allows employers to focus with laser precision on this pool of talent. Employers can:
Learn more about the opportunities to broaden and strengthen talent supply chains by sourcing Black STARs.