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Human Truth Podcast | Ep. 09: Let’s Tear the Paper Ceiling

In this episode of the Human Truth Podcast, we discuss the tear the paper ceiling movement, and why millions of workers are being overlooked for job opportunities.


Welcome to The Human Truth Podcast where, each episode, we take a closer look at a popular workforce statistic ripped from the headlines and ask: Where’d it come from? Is it true? And why should we care? 

In this episode, we examine this stat from Tear the Paper Ceiling

Nearly 70% of new jobs insist on a bachelor’s degree, but fewer than 50% of workers have one.

Host Ian Cook is joined by Yustina Saleh, VP, Research and Value at Visier, and Angela Briggs-Paige, the Vice President of People & Culture at Opportunity@Work, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to rewire the labor market so that all workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs) can work, learn, and earn to their full potential. In this episode, they discuss what the paper ceiling is, why millions of workers are being overlooked for job opportunities, and what companies can do about it. 

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Episode transcript: 

Producer: Using skills data and analytics together reveals to organizations what skills their people have now and which ones they're going to need next. Prepare for the future of work with The Big Book of People Analytics: Skills. To get started, download the guide at visier.com.

It's the Human Truth Podcast, where each episode we examine a workforce statistic root from the headlines and ask where did it come from? Is it accurate and should we care? Have you heard of the paper ceiling? It's the invisible barrier between skilled workers without college degrees and jobs that require college degrees. In today's job market, 70% of new jobs require a bachelor's degree when fewer than 50% of workers have one. Research by Accenture and the Harvard Business School found as many as 90% of large companies use some form of automatic applicant tracking system to screen resumes filtering out about half of all applications. That same research revealed that more than 60% of employers rejected otherwise qualified candidates.

As a result, people of color who are more likely to be skilled through alternative routes or STARs are disproportionately affected. On a global economic scale this degree inflation ultimately damages us competitiveness and harms America's middle class. To discuss, hosts Ian Cook and Yustina Saleh are joined today by special guest Angela Briggs-Paige, vice president of People and Culture at Opportunity@Work, the nonprofit that started the Tear the Paper Ceiling movement.

Ian Cook: Hi, I’m Ian Cook. I'm the host of the Human Truth Podcast and today we are talking about the paper ceiling and how degree inflation is excluding a huge portion of qualified workers from open jobs and what this does to corporate DEIB, diversity, et cetera, and the economy and workers. To unpack this really, really important and very timely topic I'm joined by Angela Briggs-Paige and Angela is the head of People and Culture at Opportunity@Work, a nonprofit whose mission is to rewire the labor market so that workers skilled through alternative routes, otherwise known as STARs, can work, learn and earn to their potential. I love that phrase, STARs. Opportunity@Work launched the Tear the Paper Ceiling campaign alongside the Ad Council earlier this year to help them ability of 70 million STARs in the US. Angela also has more than 20 years experience in the recruitment, retention and development of talent and is also a member of Chief, the private membership network focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders. 

Thanks for joining us, Angela, and bringing your expertise to the panel.

Also today, Yustina has joined me in the studio as my co-host. Yustina is VP of research at Visier and years of experience working in a very similar space using skills-based hiring in career developments. Yustina's research was part of the co-founding of Equity Cities and that's a group working to make the job market more equitable for everybody we've got a great three-way conversation today with Yustina and Angela focused on this notion of STARs and how do we break through the paper ceiling. Thank you both for joining us. I'm really, really looking forward to digging into the content. Let's get started with you Angela. What is the Tear the Paper Ceiling movement, what is it about? Help us understand this.

Angela Briggs-Paige: Absolutely, and thank you so much for having me. The paper ceiling is the invisible barrier that comes at every turn for workers without a bachelor's degree. The lack of alumni networks, bias algorithms, degree screens, stereotypes, misperceptions, all contribute to this paper ceiling creating barriers to upward economic mobility for STARs, even though they've demonstrated that they have the skills for higher wage work. So today, even as companies seek diverse and experienced talent, the paper ceiling often comes between them and the STARs, those workers skilled through alternative routes, that could thrive in their organizations and really help them meet their business goals. So the result has been a severe decline in STARs upward mobility. At the same time, the companies struggle to fill millions of 21st century jobs with this skilled talent.

Ian Cook: Yeah, that sounds like it's a lose-lose situation that needs to be resolved. The paper you're talking about is the bachelor's degree, the degree paper that people often work hard for, but what you're also absolutely suggesting is that the evidence that a degree is not the only way you become really, really good at work. Lots of people demonstrated capacity to do jobs at a level that they're not getting access to because they don't have that piece of paper. I think that's a really important piece to look at. I saw Yustina nodding very much. Again, a little bit about your experience with this, people who can do stuff not being given access to that stuff. What's your experience with this?

Yustina Saleh: Actually, my journey into this space started during the Great Recession as a labor market information director. And I was supposed to guide people where the jobs are when there are no jobs. It was a different environment, but there are lots of pedals right now. And I started on a journey of creating software that tells people get matched on skills rather than degrees. Exactly to combat this problem of the paper ceiling.

You see, the algorithm denying these people at the outset is actually causing two big problems. The employers ending up paying way more premium. We all know that there is a premium of about 30% denying the best talent when your best talent, the most compatible with the job based on what the job needs. And that's exactly what I tried to do, to break down the tasks and skills and to create a shape for the job and a shape for people. And I actually found in many cases that that degree is negatively correlated with that shape. But it's still being asked for same. It's a loss-loss, just like you said, a loss-loss situation here.

Ian Cook: It sounds like again, it's an important area of work because a stat, again, the team dug up where 70% of new jobs require a bachelor's degree, but less than 50% of their workforce actually have one. It's almost like employers are heading down a dark alley where what they're looking for doesn't exist. From your perspective, Angela, what's behind this focus on the degree? Why are we so fixated on this piece of paper?

Angela Briggs-Paige: That's such a good question and there are many factors at play, but I can say that our research has indicated that the decline in access and earnings has been around for STARs since at least the mid 1970s, but degree inflation became a major problem following the great recession in 2008. So employers went from a tight labor market to having massive amounts of candidates applying for jobs and they needed a way to screen them out and optimize the process. Key word, searches were easy, and college degree attainment was a big proxy to use. But that meant that more than 40% of the people, more than 50% of the workers were screened out but they're skilled to do the job. Simply for us, if you can do the job, you should get the job. But these screenings have damaged STARs who don't have that college degree.

Ian Cook: And not always because they aren't capable of getting one, but more often because they don't have access to the means of getting one in many ways.

Angela Briggs-Paige: Absolutely, yes.

Yustina Saleh: Exactly, what I found is all this is you need a proxy for qualification and that proxy, the degree is the worst proxy because then you go down a rabbit hole of one and then major and then it's liberal arts, let's exclude them. Even you go that route and you use a piece of paper rather than what the person brings to the table, it becomes impossible. But just like that, it was created because there was so much and now it's hurting the employers before anybody else.

Ian Cook: Again, interesting perspective and maybe just drill into that a little bit more. Many people would assume that a degree is the right way to determine who can and who can't do certain kinds of work. But what I'm hearing you both say is actually it was an easy piece of evidence as opposed to an appropriate piece of evidence.

Angela Briggs-Paige: Absolutely, absolutely. College can't be the only path to success. It's a clear pathway to upward mobility and it should be. It's a both and, however it should be the only pathway to opportunity.

Ian Cook: Oh, I love the way you phrased that. It's becoming clear again through the conversation, A, we're missing the evidence that we've chosen to make primary and this notion of degree is not sufficient. And the second piece is the change in the labor market. This paper ceiling, it seems like it's a problem for business as in they're hurting themselves as well as for the employee set that would likely want access to better quality jobs. How would you describe the key aspects of the problem from a business perspective? Why should a business want to remove its paper ceiling?

Angela Briggs-Paige: And I'm happy to go first, but I'll say this year we've seen the greatest talent shortage in decades with up to 11 million jobs open at one point. And so we know that employers have been in dire need of job-ready talent. Skills-based hiring, what I like to call skills first hiring really can help employers increase the size of their talent pools and find more qualified applicants for hard-to-fill roles.

Ian Cook: I'll just share a quick story Angela because it nails it. There was an individual way back, this person was the VP of hr but they put their own resume into their applicant tracking system and they didn't get a callback. For them, that was like, "This is why we are not trusting this technology because this is my role. Our system did not surface me as an appropriate candidate. The system's broken." And I think that's what you're raising, is the system is broken, it's not bringing you the people that you should be talking to. How do you see this Yustina?

Yustina Saleh: Just like you said, I think there's a very, very big disconnect between the ATS and all the skill-based technologies that have been developed. These technologies, just from a technology point of view, haven't been integrated enough like they are applied after the filters. So you end up, again, in this market. You keep competing on a very, very small pool of talent, wage inflation is going through the roof and so is there's recycling of people that have the paper and others are left unseen and they are recycling through other jobs. It's go right for bachelor jobs, go left for non-degree jobs. And it's a dichotomy that is hurting the employers, causing more and more increase in wages and of course all the innovation and I have been part of a lot of that that is happening on the other forms of credentialing. The offerings in terms of the training and learning that is offered in this, the STARs pathway are way more advanced, way more targeted for what the employer needs, including cybersecurity, data science, you name it. But it is not recognized by a system

Ian Cook: And it sounds like there's a bit of a vicious cycle here where we're paying more for work. So we want more from the people who are going to do the work. So we use proxies for what we think is quality. They're the wrong proxies so we get less applicants, et cetera, et cetera. Really quite a... Not necessarily complex, but a compelling issue where I would agree firmly with both of you, businesses need to really rethink how they're accessing talent. Which brings me to the next area I wanted to jump into. And again, can start with yourself Angela, can you give me a description of the population you would define as STARs?

Angela Briggs-Paige: Absolutely. The STARs talent category includes any worker who is 25 years of age, has a high school diploma or equivalent and does not have a bachelor's degree. What most people don't know is that more than half of the workers in this country don't have a bachelor's degree. Unfortunately, those workers are often overlooked due to employers assuming that no degree means no skill. But the reality is that there are millions of workers, 70 plus million workers in the US who are skilled through alternative routes rather than through a bachelor's degree.

Ian Cook: Just to double down on that, I really love to understand these alternative rights, but if you can give me examples of or cases where people learn by doing as opposed to learn by studying, if that makes sense.

Angela Briggs-Paige: Absolutely. STARs have developed these valuable skills through community college. It could be through certification programs, military service or on the job. There's various ways that they can acquire these valuable skills rather than through a bachelor's degree.

Ian Cook: You actually again resonate something that's been a conversation locally in my marketplace where a lot of the people who've come through to do HR work, it's the community college actually produces the best candidates, not the university.

Angela Briggs-Paige: Yes.

Yustina Saleh: I totally see that. And actually in my work I worked in both Burning Glass and Emsi before they became Lightcast. And a lot of the work I did focused on seeing people's journeys on the profiles. And so I was able to see the people that snuck out of the ATS system and build their own journey. I will see people coming out of retail and customer service jobs and others who are high school grads or they don't mention their education at all, which means they probably don't have it and went into all forms of roles from marketing to software to public relations. The thing is we are not saying, "Oh try them." We have seen in research millions of people who were able to succeed and actually we're much higher performing. And once you get into that first job, it keep rolling on. It's just a shame that these paths that were not treaded very often are completely covered by patterns and inertia.

Ian Cook: Interesting. And there's again some stats and some background that the team put together which is this wage gap between STARs and folks who've got a bachelor's degree. I think it's something you both highlighted earlier, that's doubled over the last 40 years. STARs earn less than they did in 1976 and it can take more than 30 years on the job for somebody who is skilled through alternative roots to earn the same wage that college graduates earn on day one of their career. And that's this gap, this opportunity loss, again moving towards systemic inequality in the system that I think is concern to a lot of people, be it businesses, be it individual employees and be it politicians. 

Again, very crucial aspect.

Going to come to yourself Angela, that's this network gap, that the challenges that people who are skilled through alternative route face in actually trying to access career mobility. What is it that prevents people moving?

Angela Briggs-Paige: That's a good question. According to research by LinkedIn, degree holders are three times more likely to have a strong network than non-degree holders in the US. This network gap is yet another piece of the paper ceiling and it's blocking STARs access to jobs because they don't have the same support system and connections in place as workers with degrees. The network gap and the skills gap we hear a lot about are actually part of a much larger problem, which is what we call the opportunity gap and this loss of income and career opportunity due to unfair barriers that prevent workers in the US from translating their learning into earning.

Ian Cook: Interesting you emphasize that network and again, it's not uncommon for people to talk about "Go to university, go to college," not necessarily for the degree but just to meet a whole bunch of peers who will help you on your journey. What has changed such that that network effect is as important as we're seeing in the data. Again, either Angela or Yustina happy to have you both weigh in on that.

Yustina Saleh: Look, on the network side, there is a selling piece that is very important to how... You need that kind of validation of what you can do and that validation, the software out there that help you even write a resume are abysmal. They are very, very much biased towards the bachelor earner. You don't have a network, you don't have a resume that highlights your skills, you don't have the ability to speak the employer language. A lot of the efforts that are around are still "Hire them, it's a nice thing to do" rather than here are their qualifications and communicating that way to translate what a person, their abilities inwards that the employer speaks is very, very hard. And that the network, sometimes fills that gap and sometimes the degree fills that gap. How can we really get over both humps that there is that degree, there is the network, there is the ability to communicate, which is not uncommon even for the bachelor's people.

Ian Cook: For sure. Yeah. Angela, thoughts around this network gap? Is it people starting into the network or is it how the network behaves as an in-group, out-group? Any thoughts on why this network effect is so strong?

Angela Briggs-Paige: When you think about this network gap or what we call this opportunity gap, it's not a new problem. STARs have always earned less than their degree counterparts, but the size and the scope of that problem has really grown over the last 50 years. The wage gap between STARs and workers with bachelor's degrees has doubled over the last 40 years and STARs now are less when adjusted for inflation than they did in 1976. It's really important as we think about this, what are we inputting in place so that we can emphasize this skills-first hiring so we can emphasize skills-first mobility and making sure that we're putting in place procedures and processes to recognize these skills, so these STARs can have the same economic mobility as those with bachelor's degrees.

Ian Cook: Fascinating that moving to a skills-first mindset where we're not, we're not looking at what piece of paper do you hold, but we're actually looking at what are you as a person capable of. That sounds like a great place to go to break. We'll be back shortly.

Producer:  Using skills data and analytics together reveal to organization what skills their people have now and which ones they're going to need next. Prepare for the future of work with The Big Book of People Analytics: Skills, to get started download the guide at visier.com.

Ian Cook: And so we're back and I am Ian Cook, the host of the Human Truth Podcast. And today I am joined by Angela and Justina. Angela is the vice president of People and Culture for Opportunity@Work. And we're talking about both the effects of degree inflation and this focus on the degree as evidence of skill and the fact that's, a, wrong and that it creates this paper ceiling that prevents individuals who are skilled through alternative routes actually accessing and growing their careers in a way that they would like to and that the economy needs. I'm joined by my co-host Yustina, who's a VP of research with Visier as this is a deep part of her background as well and a point of passion for her.

We talked about the network effect before we went to break, and this network effect has also been identified as something that prevents diversity growing within inside a business. A lot of well-documented, people like to hire people who are like them. So I have a degree, so I hire degree holders. I am from this ethnic... I'm from this background so I hire people like me. We know that that is not a path to success, but what are some of the effects on diversity for an organization, and then what are some of the effects overall in the economy from this unnecessary filtering out of people who can do their work well. Because again, I think nobody can argue with the fact is like "What do I want in my business?" People who can do the work well. And yet we're preventing access to large populations of people for the wrong reasons.

Again, how have we seen the effects in terms of diversity, or how does this paper ceiling actually impact those diverse groups? Angela, if I can start with yourself.

Angela Briggs-Paige: Absolutely. When you require a bachelor's degree, you screen out nearly 61% of black workers, 55% of Hispanic workers and 66% of rural workers, all who are STARs. As employers and specifically HR professionals are focusing on the diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies, by screening out STARs you are automatically having a detrimental effect on your DEI goals because you are screening out a significant portion of qualified labor.

Ian Cook: I really appreciate that perspective because again I've been in a few diversity conversations and often that comes down to like, "Let's just hire more women," which is an oversimplification of the problem. I think that's a really important... Look at the evidence to say, it's not just the gender of the candidate, it's what's the background, where do they work? What other features are you putting in place in terms of your job requirements that may be limiting your access to skilled-diverse people? Justina, you look like you got something to add here.

Yustina Saleh: Yeah, actually it's more of a question. There is this part on the employers end, the exclusion, but working with a lot of cities and regions, I found also that access to alternate routes are sometimes not that equitable across all. Pathways that were created for the diverse population, many of it do not still reach them because of outreach problems, because of... I found self-fulfilling prophecies, especially among diverse populations, that if I don't look like that, then why should I bother and go into it? Even the STARs program that the stats here are great, but what I have seen is from the get-go, even the outreach, it's not reaching all the way to even get there.

Ian Cook: Yeah, no, I think the stats give a reason to change approach, to change not just who am I trying to reach out to, but what am I asking for? Because I think that's one of the big things that we've seen. I loved where you started the conversation Angela, because the stats that we're looking at, because we track the labor market, there's still something like 1.6 to 1.7 jobs for every unemployed person. As you say, when we look at the marketplace it is starved for people to do work and yet what you're sharing with me is actually there's a whole bunch of people who are capable of doing that work. And what you're highlighting Justina is we're just not running our systems to bring those interested parties who want to work and who are interested in accessing work together in the right way. There's this systemic mess.

Angela Briggs-Paige: Yes.

Yustina Saleh: You know what also... Sorry. There is also a decline in the demand for education. Everybody is now recognizing that the bachelor's degree is not the end. Many of them are switching to these alternate routes but then get stuck. There is more and more awareness of these alternate routes, it less so for diverse populations but it's becoming a reality. A lot of schools and community colleges are offering these alternate routes, non-credentialed degrees to fill that very, very big gap. Many of them are driven by employers but again, there is a loss in translation when it comes to software and algorithm.

Angela Briggs-Paige: And I would say that when employers say that there is a labor shortage, some of them are still completely blind to the 70 plus million workers who are skilled throughout alternatives route. So they're leaving all this talent on the table. And so one of the goals of the Tear the Paper Ceiling campaign is to how do we offer practical solutions to employers and provide tools and guidance so that they are attracting and hiring STARs.

Ian Cook: Nice. That's a relevant place to go next. There's partners who are part of the Tear the Paper Ceiling and they've pledged... Can you again share with us what are some of the examples of people pledging to tear the paper ceiling? What is that pledge about? What actions can we take to shift the system? I think one of the reasons to emphasize that as a systemic problem is there's no one simple fix. It's actually you've got to change something, learn. Change the next thing, learn. Change the next thing learn. As people start to pursue how to tear the paper ceiling, what have you seen working? What are people doing by pledging to work with you Angela?

Angela Briggs-Paige: Sure. The Tear the Paper Ceiling campaign, it's not about a singular pledge or a goal, it's a wide-ranging opportunity for organizations ranging from employers to philanthropies to workforce development organizations to align behind the fact that 50% of US workers who have been left behind by our economy are out there. So we want to shift the narrative away from the idea that no degree means no skill and low wage means low skill. For years, that has been the false narrative that has plagued STARs, but our research indicates that that's just not correct.

Workers with experience, skills, diverse perspectives, we know they're being held back by this invisible barrier, which we're calling the paper ceiling. And again, the paper ceiling represents degree screens, bias its algorithms, stereotypes and exclusive professional networking that block career opportunities for these more than 70 million STARs in the US today. So when we tear this paper ceiling, employers gain access to a massive and diverse pool of talented and skilled candidates for these hard-to-fill jobs, while on the other side starts get a fair chance to earn the higher wages that lead to upward economic mobility. It's definitely a win-win.

Ian Cook: Definitely a win-win. But in taking away the degree, what I'm hearing people suggest is that we're shifting to skills-based. You again, you've both used that language quite extensively. What does it mean to be skills-based? Because I think people hear it and that it's instantly attractive. But I think again, a little more detail in how do you shift from, "We're going to talk to person A because they've got a bachelor's from San Francisco U" or whatever, to "Actually we're going to talk to person A because of the skills thing." How do we become skills-based?

Angela Briggs-Paige: I think the beauty of the Tear the Paper Ceiling campaign and the beauty of becoming an inclusive organization is that there isn't a one-size-fit-all definition or target. There's a lot of different ways this can look. If you are an employer, you can start by looking at your open roles and assessing if they actually need to require a college degree to do the job. It's about that HR person being confident to challenge those job descriptions and say, "Let's focus on the skills, let's focus on the knowledge, let's focus on the expertise that's required to do this job." And it's also looking at different sources. Go ahead Ian, I'm sorry.

Ian Cook: I was just going to double down on that Angela because I think it's a really tangible, really practical example of instead of assuming a degree actually saying, "Why are you asking for a degree? What proof do you have that somebody without a degree cannot do this job?" Because I think that's where it starts to shift the conversation where the onus is put on the hiring manager, not just to default to a degree request. It's like, "Of course they need a degree." It's like, "Why of course. What's your evidence?"

Angela Briggs-Paige: Yes. Because it's so easy for hiring managers to go to the internet and copy a job description that they see on there. And that job description already has that bachelor's degree listed as a requirement. How about we take that back and have some intentional and deliberate conversations about what's really required to do this job?

Yustina Saleh: And actually in the past I was able to compare the talent shape of people with a degree and without a degree for similar jobs, marketing communications as a whole slew. And in terms of their shape, they were almost identical but this had a degree, this didn't. But I think we may want to be careful to go a skill-based organization, and this may seem a little technical, but a lot of the software out there that are promising skill-based hiring are still including degrees as part of the ontology. Even though, and it becomes very, very... If you're just going with a model that is more predictive, degree will be all the way on the top. No matter what you do, you still have the entire algorithm and practice need to be revised.

And looking at people, doing studies to compare people with and without degrees in similar roles, that needs to happen. And then after that, a comparison of the wages, the opportunities, the networks, all that comes as a result of that little thing. And we have very, very strong evidence that they actually can. When they ignore their degree, rather than say I have a high school, when it's ignored, they shine.

Ian Cook: For sure. Other examples of how the mechanism to bring STARs ability to access work, other things out there of what you've seen. Where employers might go to look. There's an element of employers need to rethink their own internal process, but I know there's a bunch of external support organizations and systems going on. Again, any examples or ideas around how an employer might start to get access to the kind of people we're talking about?

Angela Briggs-Paige: You are absolutely correct. We have to start thinking differently about how we are trying to attract talent. We have to identify sources of talent just beyond campus recruitment. Let's go to the community colleges, let's look at the training programs or look at roles with similar skillsets to fill those needs. For example, if you're looking for an IT support specialist, look at workers like Best Buy Geek Squad, they have those skills identified to do the roles. We really have to change our approach as to how we're attracting and sourcing talent.

Ian Cook: I'm interested that you raised the parallel paths because again, I've similarly heard of a number of organizations that have been set up to do fundamental software work where a degree isn't a requirement to get in and yet... And it's work and learn or earn where else do you learn type models which build that access path and build that comfort and confidence between the employer and the perspective employee. I know there's a bunch more of those organizations coming along as well.

Angela Briggs-Paige: And it helps with retention because you're building their career pathway for them. So then they're loyal to you. And what impact that has on the organization, that's incredible.

Yustina Saleh: Exactly. And it goes across all roles. In the past, these are support functions we will be so kind to give them to people without a degree. But those higher like "No, no." And actually the CEO of a software company that I worked for was very proud that he doesn't have a bachelor's degree. He would say it everywhere. And so it goes... Again, looking at the evidence of people who succeeded without the degree and show that the art of the possible and then bringing that to the algorithm and all the systems around it to support it and provide the support in terms of resumes, in terms of network support to STARs is very, very important.

Ian Cook: Very important. We're getting towards the end of time, and I think we've raised some really fascinating questions. Really clear the value, the importance of thinking differently, tearing the paper ceiling, getting rid of that fixation with the degree and understanding all of the downsides that brings, understanding the economic impact, the imperative from the labor market, getting some practicalities on how to start doing this. If we were to wrap up, I'll come to you, Justina, and then to you Angela, what one piece of advice would you give to somebody listening to this that wants to move their organization through the paper ceiling and STARs to their paper ceiling? What should they start by doing?

Yustina Saleh: The employer, I would go and ask to audit people who are excluded from certain positions. I would like to see some of that. That auditing, that questioning is very, very important. For the employee, don't live in a self-fulfilling prophecy, for the job-seeker. Look for examples of people, how they took a route and thrive.

Ian Cook: Follow the path of others. Great advice. Thanks, Yustina. Angela, for yourself, if you were to, again, think about one or two pieces of advice for how do you start tearing this paper ceiling? Because clearly it needs done.

Angela Briggs-Paige: Absolutely. I would just remind employers that hiring based on someone's history rather than their skills and potential is toxic for the economy, is toxic for your organization. I'd start by looking at your job descriptions and making sure that you are truly emphasizing skills, knowledge, and expertise. And that way you are inviting STARs to apply with you, you are including them and they feel like this is a place where they belong. That gives you a greater candidate pool.

And for STARs, those without degrees really take some work to understand what your transferable skills are. It may not be laid out to you directly, but if you do some work and figure out what those transferable skills are, you can articulate that and be able to share that as you're applying for jobs and in the interview process.

Ian Cook: That's fantastic advice, Angela. Thank you for that. And thank you, Yustina. We're going to wrap it up here for today. Thank you for listening to today's episode of the Human True Podcast. We've been talking about how degrees as false obstacle and how that is creating a bit of friction between the work that needs to be done and the people who can do the work and how tackling that to change some of the assumptions, change some of the technologies, change some of the approach is important for employees, important for employers, and more crucially important for the economy as a whole.

I'm going to thank Justine for joining me, and a special thank you to our guest, Angela Briggs-Paige for bringing such insight to the conversation. Thank you, Angela, and we'll be back and when we get another fascinating statistic to talk about. Have a good day. Thanks all.

Angela Briggs-Paige: Thank you.

Yustina Saleh: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Producer: Thanks for joining this episode on the Human Truth Podcast presented by Visier. More links and information presented on today's show are at visier.com/podcast. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. The Human Truth Podcast is brought to you by Visier, the global leader in people and analytics whose mission is to reveal the human truth that helps businesses and employees win together. Today's episode was produced by Grace Sheppard with technical production by Gabriel Kava. Sarah Gonzales is our head of content and Ian Cook is our host. See you next time. And until then, visit us at visier.com/podcast/.

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