Doomsday headlines about robots coming for our jobs have been popping up for years now. But with the recent rise of AI chatbots like ChatGPT, those headlines are beginning to sound less like a far-fetched sci-fi novel and more like an unavoidable reality. 

IBM recently announced it plans to pause hiring for jobs that could be done with AI — amounting to roughly 7,800 lost jobs for humans at the technology corporation. Goldman Sachs estimates that 18% of jobs globally could eventually be eliminated by AI technology. And a recent ResumeBuilder survey found that one in four companies have already replaced workers with ChatGPT. 

Some, like CareerDash’s CEO and co-founder Bob Sherriff, see the silver lining. Sherriff believes AI replacing certain jobs is inevitable, but other jobs — those that require the human touch — remain lucrative opportunities, especially for first-time jobseekers. That’s why CareerDash, a workforce program provider that helps people launch in-demand careers, is well suited to meet the current moment. 

The Growing Workforce Skills Gap

The explosion of AI has only exacerbated potential trouble for many job roles. Higher education has historically tended to do a better job of preparing graduates for their second job, not their first. That is, college does a great job at preparing people for long-term success both professionally and civically. But many employers and students don’t believe higher education prepares them for their first job. 

Sixty-seven percent of business leaders don’t think the current higher education system delivers the skills needed for the workforce of tomorrow. Nearly 3 in 4 employers say they have a hard time finding graduates with the soft skills their companies need. About one-fifth of recent graduates of two- and four-year institutions said their college education did not provide the skills necessary for their first job, and about half decided not to apply to entry-level positions because they felt they were not qualified. While automation has been on the rise for some time now, these gaps have existed since long before the recent explosion of ChatGPT.  

The common denominator is a growing workforce skills gap, specifically for uniquely human skills, such as communication, networking, active listening, conflict resolution, negotiation, decision-making, public speaking, problem solving, relationship management, and teamwork. CareerDash’s workforce training programs aim to teach these very skills, helping individuals launch careers in recruiting and business development — fields with high employer demand, generous starting salaries, career mobility, and flexibility. 

Preparing the Next Generation of Workers

We sat down with Sherriff to learn more about how CareerDash is solving the workforce training gap and preparing the next-generation of (human) workers. 

Tell us about CareerDash. 

Simply put, we provide programs that help people launch careers. 

CareerDash supports both employers and jobseekers by providing holistic workforce programs that deliver what the market needs. By combining employer-driven curriculum, on-demand subject matter expert coaches that develop role-related interpersonal skills with students 1:1, and wraparound career services, we’re able to provide employers with the talent they need and students with programs that are affordable, flexible, and effectively launch new careers in less than 12 weeks and for a fraction of any equivalent program.

Which, in our view, is a very timely solution to another massive problem that frankly keeps us up more nights than we’d like: AI is here.

What motivated you to build this company?

I’m always a little jealous of other entrepreneurs who are able to tell a singular story about what motivated them to build their companies. This company wasn’t built for one specific reason. 

Originally, we built it to help military spouses, one of the most underemployed demographics in the U.S., find meaningful careers that could travel with them. One of our co-founders is actually a military spouse I hired as a business development representative at a previous job. She had no experience, but was one of the best BDRs we’d ever seen in a matter of weeks. Something clicked for me when I realized how much more untapped talent there was out there.

Then, COVID-19 happened. And we realized the remote, flexible, affordable, and effective programs we were providing military spouses were in demand for a lot of other demographics — specifically, the millions of Americans making less than $50K a year. So we rebranded as CareerDash and started working with anyone who needed us.

Now, AI is here. We think the world is about to turn on its head and more than a billion people are at risk of having their careers automated away in the near future, not to mention the billions of future young adults looking to launch their first careers. And for a myriad of reasons, traditional education continues to struggle to make the changes both employers and students need. So we’re here to solve it.

What makes CareerDash different from other solutions?

Let me first begin answering this question by saying we didn’t start these programs by understanding all of the needs of our stakeholders nearly as well as we do now. This was a fairly painful trial-and-error process.

Over the years, we’ve learned that an effective approach to career training for entry-level roles needs to do all of the following things if it’s actually going to solve the problem:

  1. It has to be affordable. For young folks, they’ve seen the mountain of debt their parents have from college and they want a different life. Career transitioners making less than $50K a year don’t have the luxury of time or money to spend to get a new degree or some equivalent.  
  2. It has to be flexible. This is primarily driven by career transitioners who need something that works around their busy schedules of work and family. But young folks also appreciate that they can learn when they want, not on a set schedule.
  3. It has to be fast. Even if you’re not unemployed, a program needs to be lean and deliver no more and no less than exactly what an employer needs to understand if a person has the skill set and ability to continue to develop in a particular role. 
  4. It has to address specific roles. To support both jobseekers and employers, we need to train for roles that are in demand, pay well, have meaningful career growth pathways, and ideally offer opportunities that can be done remotely as many individuals require flexibility.
  5. It has to actually work. This is where CareerDash understands what others don’t seem to. And that is that there are three buckets of skills employers need talent to have. The first is knowledge of the job’s responsibilities. The second is the technical skills needed to perform their duties. Third, and most importantly, employers need talent that has developed interpersonal skills. They need to understand how to effectively communicate with all stakeholders in their jobs. 

What are your future plans for CareerDash?

I think community colleges are poised for a massive increase in enrollment — and why I’d like to partner with them. By taking our proven programs and partnering with community colleges across the country, we’ll be able to create regional ecosystems that allow young adults and career transitioners to successfully launch new careers in high-demand and local roles that current education has largely ignored.

Community colleges already have the local ecosystems of employers, nonprofits, workforce boards, and access to state and federal grant dollars to subsidize tuition for low-income or underserved populations. They’re also already reasonably priced and focused on job outcomes. By pairing modern workforce programs like ours that target high-demand and meaningful careers in their areas, I believe they’re going to have an exponentially larger appeal to individuals who want to launch their careers as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

What are you most excited about for the future of education?

In general, I think I’m less “excited” about the future of education than I’m anxious about it. We have no idea what AI is going to do to jobs, but logic says it’s going to mean we need a lot fewer folks doing current roles in the near future. Goldman Sachs predicts 300 million jobs will be lost or degraded by AI. If we don’t offer better reskilling solutions than what we have today, it’s going to mean a lot of suffering for many more individuals.

But if there’s something I’m initially excited about it’s that the powers that be are taking it seriously. Employers. Nonprofits. Government. They all seem more open than ever to putting dollars into new solutions because they know as well as anyone that current options aren’t cutting it, and we’re all running out of time.

My spouse and I had our first child in late March of this year. So the future I’m most excited about is a future where when the time comes, my newborn son will have educational options that don’t require him to commit as much time and money as I did when he’s just beginning his journey into adulthood. I hope for a future with career and education options that are lightweight, constantly improving, and allow him to grow without burdening him for not knowing himself perfectly at 18.