PHILADELPHIA, PA – September 21, 2022 – Tech Impact and a coalition led by nonprofit organizations the Ad Council and Opportunity@Work announce the launch of Tear the Paper Ceiling. The national public service advertising (PSA) campaign calls on businesses and decision-makers to remove the barriers blocking 50% of workers in the U.S. from accessing equitable job opportunities.
The multiyear PSA campaign – supported by more than 30 national organizations and developed by world-renowned creative agency Ogilvy – aims to create opportunities for upward mobility for the more than 70 million workers in the U.S. who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs). These paths can include community college, workforce training, boot camps, certificate programs, military service, or on-the-job learning, rather than a bachelor’s degree. Today, STARs face a “paper ceiling” – the invisible barrier that comes at every turn for workers without a bachelor’s degree. The Tear the Paper Ceiling campaign highlights both the historic challenges facing STARs in the labor market and the skills and experience they bring to their careers.
“We are proud to support the Tear the Paper Ceiling campaign to support equitable hiring practices,” said Patrick Callihan, CEO of Tech Impact. “For more than a decade, Tech Impact’s workforce development programs have helped individuals across the country–many of whom are without a bachelor’s degree–to launch careers in IT, customer experience, and software development. We believe that this technology and technology training can change lives by increasing lifetime earning potential and self-sustainability. We look forward to creating opportunities for STARS as we focus on building an inclusive talent pool and supporting the growing demand for skilled professionals.”
Since 2000, STARs have lost access to 7.4 million higher-wage jobs, even though they have demonstrated the skills to succeed in those roles. Over the last 40 years, the wage gap between STARs and workers with bachelor’s degrees has doubled, and adjusted for inflation, STARs now actually earn less on average than they did in 1976. These losses come despite the fact that according to insights from Opportunity@Work there are 5 million STARs already in high-wage roles, while 30 million more STARs have the skills for significantly higher-wage work (70% higher on average) based on their current roles.
Tech Impact serves over 400 organizations across the U.S. with a variety of technology services and support. In addition to helping nonprofits leverage technology, Tech Impact offers apprenticeships for career pathways in software development, IT Support, and cybersecurity. Its workforce development programs include IT Apprenticeships, CXWorks, ITWorks and PunchCode. Established relationships with hiring partners have resulted in more than 75% of Tech Impact graduates being employed within six months of completing a program.
The Tear the Paper Ceiling PSAs feature STARs in various industries and stages in their career sharing their stories, journeys, and experiences to raise awareness of the skills and potential of workers without bachelor’s degrees. The campaign also provides resources for businesses, talent developers, policymakers, and STARs at www.TearThePaperCeiling.org – including a playbook to create skills-based hiring practices and develop more equitable talent strategies.
The integrated campaign will appear nationwide, in placements donated by media partners, across all advertising formats: TV, radio, digital, social media, out-of-home, and print.
Along with Tech Impact, Tear the Paper Ceiling is supported by more than 30 national organizations ranging from employers to philanthropies and workforce development organizations. Together, this coalition will broaden the impact and reach of the multiyear campaign and includes:
- Byte Back
- Cara Plus
- Cognizant Foundation
- College Board
- Climb Hire
- Comcast NBCUniversal
- Education Design Lab
- Gap Foundation
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- General Assembly
- Generation USA
- Grads of Life
- Hire Heroes USA
- James Irvine Foundation
- McKinsey & Company
- Merit America
- National Fund for Workforce Solutions
- National Skills Coalition
- New Profit
- Northern Virginia Community Colleges
- Per Scholas
- SkillUp Coalition
- Social Finance
- SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management)
- Strada Education Network
- Tech Impact
- Western Governors University
- Year Up
Tearing the paper ceiling and developing new strategies to recruit, hire, and support STARs will also play a crucial role in supporting employers’ Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) efforts. Biases against STARs – which include erroneously identifying them as low-skill – have for years had a negative impact on diversity in the workforce, as 61% of Black workers, 55% of Hispanic workers, and 66% of rural workers of all races are STARs. By intentionally screening in STARs during the hiring process, employers can take steps toward building a more inclusive workforce while also addressing talent gaps.
This news follows June’s announcement from Opportunity@Work and the Ad Council about the campaign and initial coalition partners. Organizations, employers, STARs and other individuals can join the movement by visiting TearThePaperCeiling.org to share their stories, sign a pledge to support STARs, and learn more about how to adopt and promote skills-based hiring practices.
contact us with questions