Searching for Stars: Work Experience as a Job Market Signal for Workers Without Bachelor&Apos;S Degrees

28 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2020 Last revised: 8 May 2021

See all articles by Peter Q.. Blair

Peter Q.. Blair

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

Tom Cast

Accenture Corporation - Accenture Argentina

Erica Groshen

Cornell University

Byron Auguste

Opportunity@Work

Papia Debroy

Opportunity@Work

Shad Ahmed

Opportunity@Work

Fernando Garcia Diaz

Accenture

Cristian Bonavida

Accenture

Date Written: March 2020

Abstract

The demand for a skilled workforce is increasing even faster than the supply of workers with college degrees – the result: rising wage inequality by education levels, and firms facing a skills gap. While it is often assumed that increasing the number of college graduates is required to fill this gap, this paper explores the extent to which workers without BA college degrees can help fill this gap. To find workers without BA degrees who are potentially skilled through alternative routes (STARs), we use data on the skill requirements of jobs to compute the “skill distance” between a worker’s current occupation and higher wage occupations with similar skill requirements in their local labor market. Based on our calculations, of the 16 million non-college educated workers with skills for high-wage work (> twice median earnings), 11 million whom we term “Rising STARs” are currently employed in middle-to low-wage work. We propose a general taxonomy for STARs to identify potential job transitions to higher wage work within their current earnings category and across earnings categories.

Suggested Citation

Blair, Peter Q.. and Cast, Tom and Groshen, Erica and Auguste, Byron and Debroy, Papia and Ahmed, Shad and Garcia Diaz, Fernando and Bonavida, Cristian, Searching for Stars: Work Experience as a Job Market Signal for Workers Without Bachelor&Apos;S Degrees (March 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26844, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3550993

Peter Q.. Blair (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

456 Gutman Library
6 appian way
cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Tom Cast

Accenture Corporation - Accenture Argentina ( email )

24 de Noviembre 2120
Ciudad de Buenos Aires, ABA C1242AAT
Argentina

Erica Groshen

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Byron Auguste

Opportunity@Work ( email )

1111 19th Street NW
Suite 1180
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Papia Debroy

Opportunity@Work ( email )

1111 19th Street NW
Suite 1180
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Shad Ahmed

Opportunity@Work ( email )

1111 19th Street NW
Suite 1180
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Fernando Garcia Diaz

Accenture ( email )

Dublin
Ireland

Cristian Bonavida

Accenture ( email )

Dublin
Ireland

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