Individuals Skilled Through Alternative Routes are individuals at least 18 years old who graduated from high school and have skills but don’t hold a four-year college degree. Many STARs enrolled in college but didn’t complete their degree due to family or financial circumstances. Others have a two-year community college degree or received technical training through workforce programs, online credentialing services, or certification programs. Still others are self-taught or developed their skills on the job or military service.
STARs reflect our country’s racial and regional diversity. They hail from cities, suburbs, and small towns across America. STARs fill myriad jobs in our economy, from drivers to warehouse packers; retail clerks to caregivers; medical technicians to software developers and more. They include entrepreneurs and veterans. STARs are people of all ages and at all life stages, from 20-year-olds just starting their careers to workers with 20 years of on-the-job experience.
Over the past 40 years, we have seen the steady and unprecedented erosion of the American Dream for millions of workers. In fact, Americans without a four-year degree have seen a 12% decline in wages since 1979.
This decline is in part driven by an “opportunity gap” in which access to the good jobs required for upward economic mobility often depends less on people’s skills and more on whether and where they went to college, who they know professionally and socially, or even how they look.
Bridging the opportunity gap and rewiring the American labor market starts by changing the way employers across the country identify, assess, and hire talent. Too often today, employers screen out job candidates with potential but without a traditional pedigree, leaving millions of people who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes stuck in low-wage jobs where they earn little, learn less, and are denied the opportunity to apply their skills, creativity, and motivation to the fullest.
And as we bridge the opportunity gap, we will also help employers bridge the skills gap and put qualified workers in critical jobs. To learn more, visit our Initiatives page here.
The loss of income and career opportunity due to unfair barriers that prevent workers in America from translating their learning into earning. To learn more about what causes the Opportunity Gap and how we’re trying to bridge that gap, click here.
To see a full list of our funders, partners and supporters, please click here.