A top official with Iowa City-based ACT Inc. says education is changing dramatically and so are expectations for the next generation’s workforce.

So, what do students need to know now so they can succeed in the future?

Davenport resident David Cumberbatch, chief strategy and marketing officer at the college testing and career-readiness company, plans to offer parents some basic tips at a free public forum tonight at Rivermont Collegiate in Bettendorf.

He said ACT also is going through a “major transformation” in response to how education and workplace needs are changing and will give a sneak-peek into some of those changes.

“When you hear 50 percent of recent college grads are underemployed or unemployed, you’ve got to ask, ‘What’s broken? What’s wrong?’” Cumberbatch said. “There’s a lot going on in the world of education. It’s changing more dramatically than ever.

“With the advent of technology and online learning, competency-based learning, you name it, it’s all hitting at once like an alignment of stars, and it’s going to create this tectonic shift.”

What are some core skills young people need to learn today? Cumberbatch offers this list:

  • Make sure they’re digitally literate. He said this is “absolutely critical.”
  • Cultivate the ability to sort through information and synthesize it. “Americans are spending too much time on creative writing instead of scientific or debate-style writing,” he said. “Critical writing is very different than creative, playful writing. Can your child pick up a copy of the New York Times and read a scientific article and put it into his or her own words?”
  • Focus on character-building skills, including listening and observing, sticking to a task and working as a team, among other skills, he said.

Cumberbatch and his wife, who moved to the Quad-Cities last summer, have two sons who are in the fourth and fifth grades at Rivermont. He oversees ACT’s marketing, market research, social media, corporate development and new business ventures.

He previously worked at Microsoft, Procter & Gamble in Europe and Latin America and Career Education Corp. He also serves on the board of Pathbrite, an e-portfolio start-up in Silicon Valley, Calif.

Cumberbatch holds college degrees earned in England: a bachelor’s degree in computing and economics (honors, first class) from the University of Kent at Canterbury and a master’s degree in management studies from the University of Oxford, where he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.

“In the ’60s and ’70s, you could say, ‘My kid’s going to go into a certain job field,’” he said. “But some of those job descriptions of the future are evolving every day.”


WHAT: “Parent Talk” event featuring David Cumberbatch, chief strategy and marketing officer for ACT Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides assessment, research and program management materials in education and workforce development.

WHEN: 6:30-7:30 p.m. today

WHERE: Rivermont Collegiate, 1821 Sunset Drive, Bettendorf

COST: Free

MORE DETAILS: Cumberbatch, a Rivermont parent, will speak about new rules for success in education. The event is open to the public.