• Commit to Hiring STARs

    While many employers are dealing with a record number of resignations, it’s time to reconsider where we source job candidates. Envisioning a new resource pool for potential employees is a top priority for most organizations, and STARs could be the answer. STAR is an acronym for talented individuals who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes.

    Who are STARs?

    People who are STARs have accumulated valuable skills on the job, through community college, military service, or less traditional methods rather than 4-year college degrees. The term is used to reference individuals who are at least 25 years old and without a bachelor’s degree but who are currently working. STARs represent over half the U.S. workforce, and they reflect our country’s racial, ethnic, generational, and cultural diversity. In fact, 62% of African Americans, 55% of Hispanics, and 62% of veterans are STARs.

    Maryland Eliminates College Degree Requirements

    The state of Maryland recently announced that it would eliminate the four-year college degree requirement from thousands of state jobs. Instead, the state is going to work with partners to recruit and market these open positions to job seekers who are “Skilled Through Alternative Routes” (STARs). Maryland state departments will work with a nonprofit organization, Opportunity@Work, to consider individuals who are often overlooked for jobs. Maryland Governor Hogan said, “Through these efforts we are launching today, we are ensuring that qualified, non-degree candidates are regularly being considered for these career-changing opportunities.”

    Untapped Talent Source – No Degree, Not No Skills

    Initiatives like this broaden the applicant search, allowing companies access to the skilled and diverse talent they need to fill the abundance of open jobs caused by the Great Resignation. STARs represent an untapped talent pool and often work in lower-wage jobs requiring skill sets similar to mid-range wage jobs. Workers often develop on-the-job skills at higher levels than their compensation reflects and have underutilized potential.

    Opportunity@Work Helps Narrow the Opportunity Gap

    Opportunity@Work is a nonprofit organization that is addressing the “opportunity gap” for over 70 million adults in the U.S. who do not have a four-year degree but are Skilled Through Alternative Routes. These are adequately skilled workers who often lose out on higher-paying jobs because of a company’s focus on where applicants went to college or who they know professionally and socially rather than their capabilities. “Employers are missing out on this large and diverse talent pool, which includes military veterans, opportunity youth, returning citizens, workers in rural communities, and smaller metro regions.”

    Focus on Skill-Based Hiring and Offer Upskill Training

    Companies can access greater potential in their recruitment efforts when they stop relying on deep-rooted education requirements and focus on the skills necessary to perform the job. At the same time, employers can allow upward mobility for STARs so they can earn their greatest potential and help stimulate more economic growth. Invest in internal training and upskill your own staff by teaching them new skills. This will help fulfill your talent needs faster while broadening the talent pool, and it will lead to more STARs working in higher-wage roles.


    This article relied on information from “Reach for the STARs: The Potential of America’s Hidden Talent Pool,” published by Opportunity@Work and Accenture in March 2020, as well as the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ O*NET and CPS (2021 Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series).

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