We are a community of scholars studying questions that help us understand impediments to - and opportunities for - STARs’ wage mobility

STARs are workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes rather than through a four-year college degree

Featured from the Research Community

Up to 30 Million in U.S. Have the Skills to Earn 70% More, Researchers Say
How can workers skilled through alternative routes move to higher wage work?

As many as 30 million American workers without four-year college degrees have the skills to realistically move into new jobs that pay on average 70 percent more than their current ones. While many of these workers remain locked out of economic advancement, there are pathways to economic mobility available to workers skilled through alternative routes. 

Steve Lohr
Searching for STARs: Work Experience as a Job Market Signal for Workers without Bachelors Degrees
Do workers skilled through alternative routes have the skills to do high-wage work

This paper examines the extent to which workers without BA college degrees can fill the widening gap between the demand for skilled workers and the supply of workers with college degrees. Of the 18 million workers non-college educated workers with the skills for high-wage work (>twice median earnings), 13 million who we term “Rising STARs, ” are currently employed in middle- to low-wage work.

Blair, Castagnino, Groshen, Debroy, Auguste, Ahmed, Diaz, Bonavida
Opportunity occupations revisited: Exploring employment for sub-baccalaureate workers across metro areas and over time
In which industries are "opportunity occupations" concentrated?

Opportunity occupations made up 21.6% of all employment across 121 metro areas in 2019. Jobs in healthcare and skilled trades accounted for a large percentage of these jobs – these fields are growing and at low risk of automation, compared to other fields like office and administrative support. The share of these jobs available to workers without bachelor’s degrees has grown in recent years, and this is most affected by employers’ educational expectations, the occupational mix in an area, and the cost of living.

Federal Reserve (Fee, Wardrip, & Nelson)

“STARs upend long-held conventions about which workers we call ‘skilled.’ We believe that a better understanding of STARs has massive implications for employers managing the skills gap, for policy-makers who want to improve labor market outcomes, and for the millions of Americans who, it turns out, have the potential to thrive in higher-wage work. A community of scholarship is needed to accelerate the work about this talent pool.”

Dr. Erica Groshen, Former Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Chair,
Opportunity@Work STARs Insights Advisory Panel

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