For decades upward economic mobility for millions of STARs - workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes rather than a bachelor’s degree - has been blocked by an invisible barrier – the paper ceiling. Now a movement has begun. Led by Opportunity@Work and the Ad Council with support from dozens of national partners, this new campaign is uniting workers and companies to tear the paper ceiling and see the STARs beyond it.
The Paper Ceiling: (n) the invisible barrier that comes at every turn for workers without a bachelor’s degree. See also: no alumni network, biased algorithms, degree screens, stereotypes, and misperceptions.
This multiyear national public service advertising campaign, developed in partnership with the Ad Council, aims to expand upward mobility for the more than 70 million STARs workers in the U.S.
This campaign pairs Opportunity@Work’s labor market insights with creative developed by award-winning creative agency Ogilvy.
Like the AdCouncil’s many iconic national public awareness campaigns, such as Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk, Smokey Bear, and Love Has No Labels, the Tear the Paper Ceiling campaign will be supported with a fully integrated communications plan and donated media from partners that spans mass media nationwide, including broadcast, out-of-home, social media, targeted digital advertising, earned media, and other channels.
The paper ceiling represents the degree screens, biased algorithms, stereotypes, and exclusive professional networking that block career opportunities for more than 70 million workers in the U.S. who are STARs - Skilled Through Alternative Routes rather than a bachelor’s degree. When we tear the paper ceiling, employers gain access to a massive and diverse pool of skilled candidates for hard-to-fill jobs, while STARs get a fair chance to earn the higher wages that lead to upward economic mobility.
With workers and companies uniting to create a new and more equitable future of work in which skills matter more than what’s on paper, both STARs and employers can thrive again.
Tear the Paper Ceiling is a field-wide effort, supported by a broad collective of leading companies and workforce organizations. Nearly 50 partners have already joined the coalition, and we're aiming to continue to grow this coalition with members across the business, nonprofit, policy and academic fields to support and amplify the campaign throughout the multiyear effort.
Whether you’re a STAR, an employer, a workforce advocate, or anyone seeking to create a more equitable future, you can help tear the paper ceiling and see the world beyond it.