A training need exists when a certain weakness can be overcome by the application of systematic training. This is in fact implied in the meaning of the term ‘training need’ as it is intended in the theory and practice of training. The word need suggests some kind of deficit somewhere in an individual’s ability to perform.
Training, on the other hand, suggests that this deficit can be overcome by systematic training. The deficit is normally a gap between the desired level of performance and the actual level of performance. Although it might be difficult to measure the gap accurately, supervisors and line managers can point out training needs from their observation which facilitates evaluating the performance of each employee and comparing it to other employees’ performance.
Three Main Areas of Training Needs
Three main areas to which the term training need may be applied are at the organizational level, at the occupational level, or at the individual level.
At the organizational level the training needs are related to the mission of the organization, its strategic plans and any immediate change in strategies in order to meet changes in the market and any other major factors affecting the industry.
At the occupational level the training need is related to the skills, knowledge, and attitudes (KSA) required for the performance of any job. The need here is related to the occupation rather than an individual. When identified as a need for an occupation, it will generally affect a number of individuals performing the duties of that occupation.
When the training needs have been identified at the organization and occupational levels, the needs analysis should proceed to identifying those individuals who need training.
It is important for the identification of the training needs to be well planned in order that it facilitates the information for the organisation’s need of training to support its strategies and to solve its problems. It is important to note that not all problems of HRD are solved by training. When you wish to improve organizational performance or resolve a problem that has been observed or brought to the attention of members of an organization, a performance analysis is warranted. The initiative behind a performance analysis is to review the system, recognize a need, assemble an evaluation (measurement instrument) that identifies the objective, choose the intervention, and then develop content and context that will close or significantly narrow the gap between the need and the objective.
Gathering information on training needs
It is the responsibility of the HRD professional to plan and implement the needs analysis process. Generally, the data gathering methods used include survey questionnaires, interviews, management requests, performance appraisal recommendations, observation questionnaires completed by immediate superiors, skills tests, and the organization’s records and documents that indicate training needs. These records and documents include productivity, sales and cost records, employee performance evaluation and merit ratings, accidents reports, employee attendance records, employee grievance filings and turnover rates, and conducting one-on-one interviews.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A., Human Resource Development