Nationwide campaign led by Opportunity@Work and the Ad Council highlights efforts apprenticeship efforts by partners to improve economic mobility for STARs – workers skilled through alternative routes, rather than through a bachelor’s degree
WASHINGTON – Last week, as the U.S. Department of Labor hosted its 8th annual National Apprenticeship Week, organizations nationwide launched new apprenticeship efforts and highlighted existing successful apprenticeship programs with the potential to create pathways to economic mobility for millions of workers across the country. As a growing number of policymakers and employers embrace learn-and-earn models, Opportunity@Work and its partners in the ”Tear the Paper Ceiling” campaign debuted and shared critical work to support apprenticeships as a pathway to economic opportunity for STARs – workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes, rather than through a bachelor’s degree.
“Apprenticeship programs represent a critical pathway for STARs in the U.S. to access higher-wage jobs, and we’re thrilled to highlight the efforts of our partners to create more opportunities for the 50% of the labor market that does not have a degree, but who have developed valuable skills through community college, workforce training, bootcamps, certificate programs, military service or on-the-job learning,” said Georgia Gillette, VP of Strategic Alliances at Opportunity@Work. “As STARs continue to face barriers to roles they can succeed in, we support expanding apprenticeship efforts that can help close the wage gap and help STARs translate their learning into earning.”
Research from Opportunity@Work has found that there are more than 70 million STARs in the U.S. today – 32 million of whom have the skills for significantly higher-wage work (72% higher wages on average) based on their current roles. Unfortunately, STARs are blocked by the ‘paper ceiling’ – the invisible barrier that comes at every turn for workers without a bachelor’s degree. New research from Opportunity@Work and Lightcast have found that apprenticeships are a growing avenue to tear the paper ceiling as 40% of new apprenticeships are for roles that traditionally required a bachelor’s degree, creating an opportunity for STARs to get higher-wage work.
In September, more than 50 partners joined together to “Tear the Paper Ceiling” and kick off a multiyear national public service advertising (PSA) campaign calling on businesses and decision makers to remove the barriers blocking 50% of workers in the U.S. from accessing upward mobility. The PSA campaign has been appearing nationwide across all advertising formats – TV, radio, digital, social media, out-of-home and print – and National Apprenticeship Week was the latest opportunity to elevate partners’ work on behalf of STARs – who represented nine out of every 10 registered apprentices in 2021.
Tear the Paper Ceiling Coalition Member Efforts Include:
“After years of being stuck in lower-wage jobs and facing barriers to career advancement, an apprenticeship program allowed me to tear the paper ceiling and find a job that recognized my skills,” said LaShana Lewis, STARs Advisory Council Chair. “There are millions of STARs who have the skills to thrive in higher-earning roles – if employers give them the opportunity. It’s clear from this year’s National Apprenticeship Week that momentum is growing to develop and expand apprenticeships so STARs can earn to their full potential.”
To learn more about the coalition and explore ways to start tearing the paper ceiling, visit www.tearthepaperceiling.org.
Opportunity@Work is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to enable at least 1 million working adults in America to translate their learning into earning – generating a $20 billion boost in annual earnings. Opportunity@Work engages with corporate, philanthropic, and workforce partners to directly address the barriers that STARs face, recognize STARs’ talent, and remove bachelor’s degree screens. Learn more at www.opportunityatwork.org.