For decades, employers have increasingly overlooked workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs) rather than a bachelor’s degree. This exclusionary practice diminishes businesses’ supply of talent while limiting economic mobility for half the workforce. The result is a growing opportunity gap: it takes a STAR 30 years to make the wage a college graduate earns on day one of their career.
Our report, Rise with the STARs: Building a Stronger Labor Market for STARs, Communities, and Employers, shows the impact of degree discrimination on employers and STARs and identifies a better path forward for everyone.
STARs have lost access to almost 7.5 million jobs that open pathways to mobility, but 30 jobs can open economic opportunity for STARs
Regions show uneven opportunity for STARs, but three metro areas demonstrate strategies to create mobility for STARs
Managers overestimate the prevalence of college degrees to the detriment of organizational diversity; discover how effective inclusion strategies begin with STARs
The average 25 year old STAR in 1989 started their career making $15.66 an hour. In 2018, at the age of 55, that same STAR was earning $21.77 an hour, having almost achieved the wage that a worker with a bachelor’s degree earned on their first day out of college in 1989. (All wages reflect 2019 dollars).
In the year 2000, STARs held 54% of jobs we call Gateway and Destination jobs – jobs that have traditionally provided wage growth for STARs. In 2020, they hold only 46% of those jobs. This represents 7.4 million good jobs that became unavailable to STARs.
How did this happen? As the U.S. labor market added 17.2 million new Gateway and Destination jobs over the past two decades, STARs filled only 1.8 million of them—7.4 million jobs that in the past had been filled by STARs went primarily to higher educated workers.
Managers with bachelor’s degrees are likely to overestimate the percentage of the workforce that has a degree – and these misperceptions affect their hiring behavior. Further, STARs’ experiences in the workplace point to ways companies can strengthen their diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts.
Remove unnecessary degree requirements and hire based on skills.
Develop pathways for STARs within your organization and across local companies.
Engage with local talent developers to source and hire STARs.
Build a culture of belonging so that STARs can thrive in your workplace.