New research from WorkRise grantee Opportunity@Work demonstrates the harm and exclusion workers without four-year degrees who are “skilled through alternative routes” (STARs) experience in the labor market. Rise with the STARs shares new evidence on the impact of degree discrimination on the labor market outcomes of STARs, and includes a call to action for managers, companies, industries and regions to unlock the skills and talent of STARs with new talent recruitment and retention strategies. Using the 2021 Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey and other data sources, the researchers find:
- Since 2000, STARs have been displaced from roughly 7.4 million middle- and high-wage jobs that serve as gateways for economic mobility. About 30 occupations account for nearly half of STARs’ displacement, and greater employer recruitment of STARs into these key occupations could put them a path toward mobility.
- It takes 30 years for STARs to reach the starting wage of a college graduate, suggesting that on-the-job learning and skills STARs have gained have not translated into meaningful upward mobility
- Opportunity for STARs varies by region. Certain regions score high on the STARs Mobility Index, which captures variation in economic opportunity for STARs across the 50 largest metropolitan regions in the U.S. The metro regions of Denver, Rochester, and Virginia Beach offer “exceptional” opportunities to STARs based on an analysis of job transitions of STARs, wage penalties faced by STARs based on their lack of a BA or BS degree, and share of STARs working in occupations that pay above the median wage in these regions.
- Manages with four-year degrees themselves overestimate the proportion of the workforce who hold degrees, leading to hiring practices that exclude STARs for jobs they may be qualified for.