2020 was an unprecedented year for businesses across the globe. Never before in modern history has a pandemic caused this level of disruption and change. With the pandemic, came unparalleled change. Workforces went remote, reskilling and upskilling became paramount to fill skills gaps and keep teams employed.

New power skills — like agility, communication, resiliency, and adaptability — became essential as everyone adjusted to a new ‘normal’ that was anything but. Digital transformation accelerated practically overnight — even for companies and verticals that were still years away from it. HR and talent development found themselves right at the centre of change.

As organisations have transformed themselves to meet the challenges of a disruptive year — and the opportunities of a digital future — the role of the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) is changing. The CLO played an indispensable part in the rapid reskilling of the workforce in response to Covid-19. Going forward, the CLO will be well-positioned for a more strategic role driving business objectives and outcomes.

Growth of the CLO Role
2020 has seen the role of CLOs’ expand to such a degree that they are now required to be both leaders and caregivers, supporting and enabling success and wellbeing of employees in new and creative ways.

Because knowledge and learning is not taking place in person, or relegated to the LMS, many CLOs are now finding their purview to include overseeing of collaboration and knowledge management platforms.

We are also seeing a change in the way organisations approach L&D from performance management to career enablement. Where employee reviews have previously focused on employees’ performance, outputs and competencies, in an attempt to bridge the skills gap, CLOs are now more interested in how employees can develop and grow. For employees, this means a shift in culture from “How am I doing in my job?” to “How can my career progress?”.

CLOs’ of today are fast becoming the voice of the workforce and the mastermind behind a company culture that values, rewards, and benefits from ongoing learning & development. They epitomise the democratisation of learning, making reskilling and upskilling options more accessible to all. Charged with helping learners, employees, managers, and organisations reach their full potential, the CLO is redefining how to fill skills gaps, how to motivate, inspire, recognise, and reward achievement and excellence.


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