FE News catch up with Dave Coplin after his keynote speech at the Jisc Digifest 2019 conference. Dave discusses the skills required for the future World of Work, with the need to move away from equiping learners from school, Further Education and Higher Education with the skills designed for a Victorian production line system, when in reality the workers of the future will be working hand in hand with algorithms and machine learning to produce more than they could on their own:

Hi, my name's Dave Coplin. I'm the CEO of a company called The Envisioners. I'm not a Chief Executive Officer I'm a Chief Envisioning Officer, check me out!

I'm from the future, I come from three decades of technology, working in the technology business.

The Future Is All About Humans

The thing that I walk out of three decades with is an understanding that the future is all about humans.

It's got nothing to do with the technology, or more specifically it's about how we humans use the technology.

I think we're heading into big disruption in the labour market. I think we're heading into big disruption in our society, some of that will be driven by technology.

What I worry about is that if I look at the skills that we're equipping people with today, from people in school to people in higher and further education, is we still preparing them for a Victorian world. We still think that our kids are going to work on a Victorian production line.

In reality they're going to be working with algorithms, hopefully hand in hand, and hopefully extending their reach, being able to achieve more than they could do on their own as a result of a great relationship. 

So, this world that they're going to inherit, one of the things that we can't do, we mustn't do, is compete with machines. We shouldn't be trying to out calculate computers, but we should instead be looking to supplement our human skills with the incredible power that they offer us. I look for a world where it's humans plus machines, rather than humans versus machines.

If you see the world as I do, you start to think that there are actually some pretty basic fundamental human skills that become really important for that future.

1. Creativity

The first is creativity. We're going to need people to think really creatively about the future. We're going to need people who can solve problems.

We going to see things that we've never seen before, we're going to be challenged in ways that we couldn't have anticipated.

The only way we get through that is to have people who are comfortable to be creative, can think very differently, can think very quickly and able to articulate what they want.

2. Empathy

Then the second skill is about empathy, those humans are only going to be successful because humans will only ever deal with other humans.

Yes, the machines will be involved, but we need humans who understand what it means to be another person, to walk in their shoes.

To have empathy, to really respect who they are and how we engage with them. These are core skills.

3. Accountability

The final skill I think about is accountability. It's really about just because the algorithms, just because the technology says that that's the answer, that doesn't make it the answer.

We still push the buttons, we still want the people that have good human judgment, but what we need to do is learn to build that relationship.

So, if we can build these really fundamentally human skills, based on principles like

  • Resilience,
  • Critical thinking,
  • The ability to communicate and collaborate,
  • The ability to respect each other, again there's empathy.

That's the point in which we humans can rise up and live up to all the potential that technology has to offer.

Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer, The Envisioners

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


The FE News Channel gives you the latest breaking news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation.

Providing trustworthy and positive news and views since 2003, we publish exclusive peer to peer articles from our feature writers, as well as user content from our network of over 3000 contributors, offering multiple sources of news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, webinars, video interviews and news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page