As the world continues to grapple with the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most pressing challenges facing businesses and governments is the need to find and develop new sources of skilled labor. While traditional routes to acquiring skills such as formal education and apprenticeships have long been considered the norm, there is a growing recognition of the value of an often-overlooked group of workers – STARs, or “skilled through alternative routes.”
STARs are individuals who have acquired their skills through a variety of non-traditional channels, such as on-the-job training, self-study, or online courses. They represent a vast pool of untapped talent that has the potential to fill the skills gap and drive economic growth.
One of the key advantages of STARs is that they are often highly motivated and have a deep understanding of the needs of their industry. They are also often more adaptable and able to learn new skills quickly. This makes them well-suited to fill roles in industries that are experiencing rapid change and disruption, such as technology and healthcare.
Another advantage of STARs is that they are often more affordable to employ than traditional candidates. Because they have not gone through formal education or apprenticeship programs, they do not carry the same level of student debt or training costs. This makes them an attractive option for businesses looking to control costs and remain competitive in a challenging economic environment.
Despite the many benefits of STARs, there are still many barriers to their entry into the workforce. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of recognition of non-traditional routes to skill acquisition. Many employers and governments still view formal education and apprenticeships as the only valid paths to acquiring skills, and STARs are often overlooked or undervalued as a result.
To fully unlock the potential of STARs, governments and businesses must take steps to recognize and validate the skills and knowledge that they have acquired through alternative routes. This could include creating new certification and accreditation programs, or providing incentives for employers to hire STARs.
Overall, STARs represent a vast pool of untapped talent that has the potential to drive economic growth and fill the skills gap in a challenging global economy. By recognizing and valuing the skills and knowledge that they have acquired through alternative routes, governments and businesses can unleash the full potential of this hidden talent pool and create a more inclusive and dynamic workforce.