The Learnovation Summit 2019

“The future workplace does not need ‘know-it-alls’; it needs explorers who want to know it all.” EdTech conference warns of culture of hiring just for qualifications.

·      300 EdTech experts attend Learnovation Summit at Croke Park

·      Speakers ask if we are allowing technology to shape our society

·      Social acceptance of putting ‘devices’ in between humans at work and home

Employers need to change the way they are hiring and upskilling staff to ensure our workplaces have the right human skills to cope with a transforming digital age. They need to move away from hiring ‘know-it-alls’ and instead hire ‘explorers’ who want to know it all. This is the message from Wendy van Tol, a consulting leader at PwC in the Netherlands who has carried out extensive international research into human value in the digital age. She also asked if we were allowing technology to shape our society – rather than the other way around – and speaks about the social acceptance of putting devices between people, which is getting in the way of one-to-one relationships at work and at home.

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Photo Caption: Wendy van Tol & Tom Pollock Learnovate

Wendy van Tol is one of the keynote speakers at the annual Learnovation Summit, taking place in Croke Park today, the theme of which is Future Ready Skills — connecting talent, skills and performance to accelerate growth.

Learnovation was organised by The Learnovate Centre, in partnership with Dublin Regional Skills and sponsored by Own the Room. The Learnovate Centre is one of Europe’s leading research centres in learning technologies, based at Trinity College Dublin.

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Photo Caption: Siobhan O'Shea, Chair Dublin Regional Skills, Peter Hamilton, Interim Director, Learnovate, Tracey Donnery, Skillnet Ireland, Natasha Kinsella, Dublin Regional Skills Manager

Wendy van Tol is speaking today about ‘Human Value in the Digital Age’ and how learning professionals can prepare our workforce for the digital opportunities and challenges of the future. She says that digitalisation and automation are already fundamentally transforming the way we work and many organisations currently focus on the cognitive skills humans bring to the workplace.

However, smart automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are already outsmarting the cognitive human brain so other skills, such as adaptability and creativity, are becoming very important. Wendy van Tol says:

“But also empathy, care, integrity and imagination are values that are needed to build the bridge between technology and increased prosperity and wellbeing. If looking at skills in the workplace, do we really need people with two degrees? The people with all the qualifications? Are we going to choose the person who has all the qualifications and ticks all the boxes or are we going to go for someone who has emotional intelligence and is clearly a team player; a person who is open to exploring?

“We don’t want ‘know-it-alls’, we want people who want to know it all. The explorers. I work in the financial sector and there is such a strong bias of what is quality but sometimes the people who are over-qualified are not always the right people for the job – we need more explorers.

“Employers put high stakes on digital upskilling but we are missing a bit of the jigsaw; those who have emotional connections, the creative problem-solvers. We need people who are humble enough to be aware of their bias and embrace their ignorance.

“We can still hire uber smart PhDs as we will still need people to create the algorithms but we need people to ensure we are in control of the data and that the  people who have access to that data act in a right, ethical and moral way.”

Wendy is also today questioning whether or not we are using technology to help improve our society or if technology is instead shaping our society.

“We have to ask ourselves if tech is leading our behaviours when it should be the other way around. We want to create a human economy that has technology at its heart to get a better world and not be ruled by technology.

“There is a social acceptance in the way we are connecting with people through technology and that is getting in the way of one-on-one relationships. Often a device is put in between people – in both work and personal relationships. We are putting technology in between human beings. We need to learn how to get the benefits of technology and at the same time learn how to deal with the often unintended consequences that make us less human.”

Wendy, who is one of 27 speakers at Learnovation, is a consulting leader in the Netherlands and part of the Joint Europe Advisory Leadership team and the Europe Consulting Leadership team. Before these roles, she was leading the People & Organisation competence group in Consulting from 2011 until 2016.

Funded by Enterprise Ireland, The Learnovate Centre is an industry-led technology centre made up of expert researchers using emerging technology to help transform the lives of learners in the workplace, schools, at third level and in the home.

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Martha Kearns from StoryLab at +353 87 2720212


About Learnovate:

Learnovate is one of Europe’s leading research and innovation centres in learning technologies. An industry-led technology centre funded by Enterprise Ireland, Learnovate connects world-class academic research with entrepreneurs at the leading edge of the global learning technologies sector. Learnovate research fuses expertise in technology, the learning sciences, product design, user experience and strategic innovation to drive commercial success for the Centre’s industry partners. To find out more about Learnovate, visit

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