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Many large companies could soon be sporting a new person on their boards – the chief learning officer (CLO) – according to predictions by a learning company managing director.

“The rise of the CLO is comparable to that of the chief information officer,” said Joe Marcelle, managing director of training and learning provider Thomson NETg. “As more companies realise how instrumental staff development is to achieving business objectives, the empty seat in the boardroom will seem increasingly obvious.”

He predicts that by 2011, more than 50% of large companies will have a CLO on the board. Currently, one FTSE 100 company has a CLO on the board compared to 50% of US Fortune 500 companies.

Marcelle said that economic globalisation and changing regulation meant business was in a permanent state of flux. This would generate a continuing need for equipping staff with new skills.

“As more companies invite a CLO on the board, the role of staff development will finally achieve its pivotal place at the heart of corporate practice,” he added.

As for how much CLOs will be paid, Marcelle said it should be on a par with IT directors – at least £80,000 a year.

He added that CLOs will need a strong personnel and business background and be able to develop high-level metrics. “It wouldn’t surprise me if a number of management consultants move to take up this role,” he said.

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