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What Is a Training Needs Assessment?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 10 December 2014
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A training needs assessment is an analysis designed to determine the type of training needed by employees and the best way to implement that training. Assessments can be used to address training shortfalls, to develop new training programs, and to improve the quality of training to make it more effective and valuable for employees. Outside consultants can conduct assessments and human resources departments can also perform their own.

There are several stages involved in a training needs assessment. The goal is to identify the specific needs of an environment, workplace, or department and to find ways to meet these needs. Needs can include specific skills that employees need to succeed along with an identification of the function of employees. If an employee's function is not well defined or there is a dispute about an employee's job description and role with the company, it can be challenging to determine training needs so that the employee can work effectively.

Employees themselves can be involved in a training needs assessment. They may respond to surveys and interviews to explain what they do and how they do it and to describe areas where they feel like they have not received enough training. Employees may express unfamiliarity with anything from company policies to how to safely operate equipment. Supervisors also play a role, providing input on what employees should be doing and how well they are completing assigned tasks.

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As a list of needs is generated, a plan can be developed to provide people with training in these areas so that they can do their jobs. A training needs assessment can result in the development of a better employee manual, training modules that people can complete to acquire new skills, or the decision to send employees to training programs to develop skills that they will be able to apply to their work.

At the end of a training needs assessment, employers should have identified what kind of training is needed, who needs the training and who will provide it, and how it will be provided. Additional considerations can include the timing of training along with the location. The assessment can benefit current employees who require more training as well as new employees being trained from the ground up. It can also be used to develop a standardized training program that can be used in other departments, subsidiaries, and franchises to ensure consistent and efficient performance.

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