Training needs analysis!

Christine-Richard right sizeWe read and hear so much about the need for individuals to acquire the appropriate skills to progress in the ‘world of work’. As many of us know and, I hope agree, education from, in my view the earliest possible opportunity, including even pre-school is vital in a fast-moving world to meet the challenges not only of today but also for the future.

But how does this impact on the success, or failure of companies, private sector, public sector, charities and employee owned companies? Clearly there are well-established base lines (not simply in tennis) which have general support, if not universal application. These include numeracy, computing, ability to use language appropriately and recognition of the benefits of team working.

Some years ago I was Senior Managing Consultant of TACSI (The Training, Advisory and Consultancy Service for Industry). Along with my predecessor in the role and made possible by finance from the European Social Fund as well as Lothian Regional Council we produced a Manual to enable the current skills of organisations of all sizes and types to examine skills requirements at three levels in terms of staff.

These essentially were Organisational, Occupational and Individual. As well, the service included highlighting Non-training issues which still had an impact!

The background to TACSI was originally to provide and market business training provided by Further Education Colleges to organisations, initially in the area of Lothian Region colleges. The materials were then in paper form with many of the schedules and steps being copyright-free. The professional methods used are still, I believe, very relevant.

The Manual sets out in great detail all the steps required to meet the potential client’s needs and expectations at the outset as well as the cost of carrying out the work. This was, and is still, vital before any agreement to proceed can be reached. A successful TNA will define the needs of the whole organisation in line with aims and objectives,whether financial in terms of profits or meeting other objectives – for example social Targets. Every step was researched by the team putting together the Manual and this was made clear to potential clients at the outset.

Whilst copyright remained with TACSI, materials such as schedules and processes were available to be copied free of charge. The first edition of the manual was a success and after the second edition we had the idea of marketing the manual the techniques to education establishments over a much wider geographic area. I was personally involved in promoting and carrying out this, to me highly enjoyable professional task.

In summary, using a variety of professional methods and trained consultants, in the main from Business Education the following needs were identified:-

1 What did an Organisation need in terms of staff skills in order to succeed? What and where did gaps exist?

2 Each Occupation requires staff with specific skills in order for the work the be carried out to the best effect. It is very rare to find no further needs in skill terms which could improve performance in most areas.

3 Individual needs vary tremendously even within those staff doing the same or similar jobs. The TNA process identifies where more training is needed for some members of staff.

It is stressed no blame is ever attached to any of these findings. In addition as training needs, in the course of the exercise other issues can, and usually do emerge which are reported as ‘non-training-related issues) These are always noted in the final report without attribution to individuals. No recommendations are made but invariably have proved useful to the client.

Finally, recommendations on types of training are provided but without recommending specific institutions. At TACSI we only suggested which training providers could best meet the training recommended in the report but only if this information were requested and agreed in advance with the client.

Wherever possible and again agreed at the outset a de-briefing on a face to face basis in addition to copies of the report, adds to client satisfaction and experience suggest earlier acceptance and action by the organisation which had invested in the TNA.

Christine Richard, OBE, FRSA, TQFE

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