How to do a training needs analysis

Ross Woods, 2017

Do staff have all the skills they need to do their current jobs? What are the current capabilities of an organization's workforce? How well do personnel perform? And how do you know? (For example, you might have a system of KPIs and reviews.)

A training needs analysis is a process to determine what skills a worker already has and what he/she still needs to perform his /her role to the standard required by the organization.

A skills audit is a check of the curent skills of staff, and it is highly advisable. Its results will probably surprize you, because:

What does the organization want from you?

The purpose of this first stage is find out what they actually want and need from a training needs analysis, and get their agreement on what you are being asked to do. They could be asking for a training needs analysis for the whole organization, a specific business unit, or for specific roles. The following questions might be helpful:

Introduce youself to staff from the organization, tell them what you have been asked to do, and start building a good working relationship. Meet with them to discuss with their objectives and expectations.

Look at published information on the website and general information documents to learn more of what they need and how well it matches their statements of what they need.

Based on what you have heard and read, make a list of any issues that might impact on the organization’s objectives and requirements. Describe each one in enough detail to be useful later on. Include both existing and potential issues.

Then write a plan to analyse training needs, and negotiate an agreement with the organization’s decision-makers.


The training needs analysis

When the task is clear, make a plan to gather information to determine skills and competencies.

Find out what legal and ethical requirements apply to gathering information and data. Privacy and commercial-in-confidence are obvious. If the work is dangerous, you might have limited access to some kinds of worksites.

Observation. In some kinds of jobs, it may be helpful to observe what happens. You might do a general obseravation to complile a list, or use a checklist.

Interviews. Interview key people: supervisors, trainers, employees. Start with a questionnaire to make sure you cover all important points, but give yourself the freedon to create follow-up questions as the need arises. Beware that interviews during staff time will usually require appointments and time limits.

Documents. Look for written sources of information:

Workflow. If you are doing a skills analysis of a business unit, consider following these steps.

  1. Start by finding out its core activities and its purpose.
  2. Next, consider the parameter under which it works. These might be productivity targets, legislation, location, budget, and orgaizational capacity.
  3. Then make a diagram or map of the workflow so that you can see each person’s role in the whole, and how it contributes to achieveing the goals of the business unit.
  4. Now that you can see each person’s role, you can see how what is required of each work role. Don’t forget to include jobs that easily fall between the cracks, such as solving problems when things go wrong or not to plan.
  5. Make a list of requirements for each job.
  6. Compare the lists of job requirements with job descriptions and other documents.
  7. Use your list as a checklist when you observe what people actually do.

Plan to double-check your information. As a general rule, do not depend wholly on one source for an item of information. For example:


Do your research

You now have to follow your plan to gather information. It is quite likley that you will have to revise your plan as you to account for the unexpected.


Give advice to the organization

When you have all the information you need, complile a preliminary report and get feedback and comments from the leadership in the organization. Check whether they think your advice and recommendations are suitable to their current situation and will meet their needs. You might need to add any other input and revise your advice.

Finally, complete and present final report to the organization giving clear advice and recommendations on their training and assessment needs. You don’t have to plan a full training program for them, but you should include realistic options for meeting those needs.

Get feedback and comments from the leadership in the organization.