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The Impact of AI:

How CCEDC is Preparing Workers to Compete

The impact of AI is far-reaching, but now we’re seeing its potential effects on next-gen workforce. According to, a resource for higher education planning, 8 in 10 companies surveyed plan to lay off recent college grads this year due to AI. The survey of 804 hiring managers also found that 69% of them believe that AI can accomplish the work of a recent college grad, more than half trust AI over interns and recent grads, and some companies are hiring fewer interns and recent grads due to AI.

It’s not all “doom and gloom” though. In fact – far from it. For decades, CCEDC has been preparing next-gen workforce for next-gen challenges. A closer examination of this latest survey shows we’re ready for AI.

The Human Impact

When the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) and its Workforce Development team took a closer look at the survey, we found that of the 78% of hiring managers who say recent grads will face layoffs at their companies, the vast majority were not predicting mass layoffs. About a quarter anticipate less than 3% and another quarter predict 10% or less. Zero layoffs is always the goal and we know that if you are the worker, their parent or mentor, the effects of being laid off can be devastating.

The effects on our regional workforce can also be impactful. Take a moment to recall your first job or internship. For many of us, those early days of working are among the most memorable – including the cringe-worthy moments where we made frequent missteps. You will recall that it was a human mentor who helped us develop the real-world, practical skills needed to become the valuable mid-level employees and upper management we are today. What if those critical teaching moments for the professional environment were taken away? We’re already seeing how COVID has affected a generation’s transition from academia to the workplace. We are not willing to let AI do the same.

The Business Value

We, at CCEDC, are business people to our core, so we understand that businesses can reduce immediate costs and increase productivity by leveraging AI for automated and entry-level tasks. This can have a significant impact when we consider that labor costs can account for as much as 70% of total business costs, including wages, benefits, payroll and taxes. But let’s also consider the long-term impact: At this point, AI has not demonstrated the ability to replace the innovation, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills of experienced workers. How will you attain those workers if you never retained their earlier generations?

Support & Solutions

The Workforce Development team at CCEDC found it highly significant that the workers being replaced by AI in the survey were those without a trained skill set. Training and upskilling individuals for quality, family-sustaining jobs is the crux of CCEDC’s workforce development programming and has been for more than two decades.

Programs like Project RECONNECT provide a pathway to successful completion of the student’s desired field of study by removing most, if not all financial barriers and providing support services to address pressing personal and educational needs. Girls Exploring Tomorrow’s Technology (GETT) offers a series of programs throughout the year to encourage and excite girls to explore STEM activities and ignite an interest in STEM careers. Summer Career Academies host opportunities for students to explore in-demand careers, boost their college applications, and develop leadership and business-critical skills through hands-on STEM activities, mentoring and shadowing opportunities, and career exploration in our local community.

All of the above provide the hands-on experiences necessary to ensure your company’s new hires far exceed entry-level skill sets while also equipping them with the critical soft skills required for success, including time management, problem-solving, effective collaboration and clear communication.

In addition, CCEDC is exploring ways to collaborate on AI training programs in schools. It is our belief that we should be teaching students how to use AI and how to work with it safely and ethically, so they are prepared for an AI-enabled workplace. One way we incorporate AI is in virtual reality activities such as Anatomage. Students explore the realistic human anatomy through a virtual reality headset which helps make the experiences more immersive, interactive, and personalized.

The conclusion of the survey article is – rightly – that “we need to reevaluate how we educate and train students to ensure that they are prepared for the future job landscape, which will increasingly rely on human and AI collaboration.” CCEDC heartily agrees. That’s why we’re already doing it, and taking the next steps to do it even better.

About the Author

Patti VanCleave is Vice President of Workforce Development & STEM at the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC). She oversees the management and implementation of regional industry partnerships, as well as all adult and youth workforce development programs. Prior to joining CCEDC, VanCleave served as the Director of Operations for a non-profit. In addition to her education in Organizational Behavior/Applied Psychology at Albright College, she has held various management positions with advertising, accounting and IT companies.