Training Needs Assessments is a postmortem that seeks todetermine areas of job performance in which an employee needs training. It is a process of identifying the areas where both individuals and groups in an organization would benefit from training in order to become more effective at achieving their own objectives and the objectives of the organization.
Mitchell (1993) describes needs analysis as “an examination of the existing need for training within an organization”. In other words, it identifies performance areas or programs within an organization where training should be applied. A needs analysis gathers information about present practices and compares these practices to the desired way of doing business. The difference between where you are now and where you want to be defines where a training program should concentrate its effort. A survey or assessment is often conducted before any training takes place as well as after the training in order to determine the effectiveness of the training implemented.
A pre-assessment survey involves five basic steps, (i) Identifying the objectives of the organization (ii) Appointing a training coordinator (iii) Gathering information about the skills and abilities of the individuals that are needed now and will be needed in the future (iv) Analyzing that information and (v) Identifying the gaps that exist between the current situation and what is/will be required (Furze, 1999).
The above basic steps of Training Needs Assessment helps an organization strengthen its employee’s job performance by pinpointing areas of performance that can be improved. This is because it increases the effectiveness of the employees by identifying areas where an employee needs improvement through training. It can also be used to determine the effectiveness of training once it has been conducted. Any organization that has existing training methods in place or that plans to implement training can benefit from such an in depth survey to understand the training needs of its employees.
One purpose of identifying learning needs of an individual may be the accumulation of information that allows a clearer picture of the needs of a whole group. Overall information generated by staff gives a far clearer picture of what is needed and how it is to be provided across an organization. Development needs are not always obvious especially in experienced and competent staff. There may be a need to search for even more improvement or to access the underused potential that the staff has (Bartman and Gibson, 1994). This can lead to not only greater productivity but satisfaction and promotion for the individual.
Lack of professional development can result in low staff morale. It is imperative to retain staff and there is a link between increased retention, personal development plans and appraisal (Gould, 2004). Without some standardization, of effort and equity of resource allocation, staff may feel that their wants and needs are not being attended to. Staff motivation to participate in training and development is enhanced if there is an active involvement in setting priorities and a sense of ownership in the eventual outcomes.
There is a distinction between individuals perceived and real needs. One way to bring these together is to undertake a needs analysis that allows the individual to examine their current position and progress and to develop their knowledge and skills with an understanding of the organizational and departmental requirements (Furze, 1999).