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Training Needs Assessment

Training & Development / Training Needs Assessment

What is it?

Perhaps one of the most important and most often overlooked aspects of the planning stages of a training course is needs assessment. A needs assessment identifies the gap between “what is&rdquo and “what should be&rdquo. It indicates what training should focus on and helps to define the training objectives. It also aids in the selection of the training activities.

The assessment indicates what the participants want and need from the training so that the training course is useful to the participants. Based on this, the training objectives for the course can be established.

How does it help?

A needs assessment helps avoid common mistakes in training, such as:

  • Including a topic that is already familiar to the trainees
  • Including a topic that has little relevance for the trainees
  • Omitting a topic that is important to the trainees

The trainer may have a perception of the needs of the trainees, but validation of these needs is essential. A realistic look at the situation of the trainees will help the trainer focus the presentation to the needs and realities of the participants. A needs assessment will also indicate additional information that should be presented, identify problems trainees may have with the topic and provide information on possible constraints that could prevent trainees from applying the new information and practices.

How is it conducted?

An assessment of the trainees needs can be carried out by meeting with the trainees, administering questionnaires and/or reviewing key materials such as policy documents, annual reports and evaluations. The needs assessment can be conducted in advance of the training or in the initial stages of the training course.