Studies have shown that 70% of employees say they haven’t mastered the skills required for their current roles, while 64% of managers don’t think their employees can fulfil future skill requirements. To get the most from a workforce, employers need to strategically bridge the gaps in skills, knowledge and abilities by first conducting comprehensive training needs assessments. Find out how to propel your organisation forward with this powerful L&D method using e-learning tools and technology.
What is a training needs assessment?
When addressing skills gaps, employers need to create a tailored training programme that meets the unique needs of the entire business, along with each employee. Employers cannot simply create a one-size-fits-all training programme and expect to yield the best results from their workforce, so their chosen strategy needs to be able to pinpoint specific training requirements and effectively address them. A training needs assessment is a systematic method that identifies gaps in employee skills and knowledge. By deploying this method and following its key steps, employers can find out what training needs to be carried out to meet predetermined goals and objectives and improve employee performance and outcomes. A training needs assessment allows employers to uncover skills gaps, looking at which staff members require training, what training they need, and the best method of delivering said training.
The key steps to follow when conducting a training needs assessment
Defining objectives and aligning them with training activities
The first step when conducting a training needs assessment is to create the foundation for all training initiatives. This is achieved by defining wider company goals and objectives and aligning them with the training process by identifying which skills and knowledge employees should possess in order to achieve them. For example, if a company is looking to implement AI tools over the next year, one of its key objectives should be to build the skills and competencies within its workforce that will allow them to effectively put these new tools to use without having to hire experts externally.
To ensure that all the essential skills are addressed, employers may wish to enlist team managers, SMEs and experienced employees. By tapping into a workforce’s knowledge base, employers can better identify which skills and competencies are essential to employee performance and objective achievement. Collating ideas from a range of employees can be a complex process so utilising e-learning tools here can drastically improve the efficacy of this practice.
With an e-learning platform such as a learning experience platform (LXP), admins can create workspaces in which a select group of employees contribute ideas and create a core list of skills, knowledge and competencies. By using this platform, admins can easily collect data and contributions that can then be used further along in the training needs assessment process.
What is an LXP? Read our ultimate guide to find out.
Identify skills and knowledge gaps
Perhaps the most crucial stage of the training needs assessment method is the process of identifying skills and knowledge gaps across the workforce. Once the core skills and competencies have been identified based on company goals and objectives, as determined in the previous step, employers can determine how these skills are distributed amongst the workforce.
The most effective and reliable way to identify skills and knowledge gaps is to use e-learning tools such as assessments, surveys and 360-degree feedback activities. Assessments can be created and delivered using a learning management system (LMS) and designed so that they test employees on specific knowledge areas and skills. For example, if an organisation wants to develop data analysis skills, an e-learning assessment can be configured to identify proficiency levels with delivery formats such as multiple-choice questions, true or false questions, and matching the word to the definition. With an LMS, the results of the assessments will be automatically collated so that administrators can use the data during the next stage of the training needs assessment.
Other methods of identifying skills and knowledge gaps using e-learning technology include online surveys and 360-degree feedback tools. Using these methods, employers can ask employees to complete self-assessments along with asking their colleagues to evaluate whether they think their peers have demonstrated high proficiency levels in specific areas. Once again, these processes can be completed in a data-driven and structured manner using e-learning technology found in a performance management system such as Totara Perform.
What is Totara? Read our ultimate guide.
Use data to identify training needs
Once skills and knowledge gaps have been identified, employers can use this data to identify training needs at an organisational level or individual basis. Based on the outlined goals and objectives that were established in the first stage of the process, employers should determine which training needs are most critical and prioritise training based on which skills and knowledge development processes will help achieve company goals.
Employers may wish to set deadlines for the completion of training and set out a structure that will support the training process. Referring to the example of an organisation adopting AI tools, the employer in this scenario may wish to prioritise AI-related skills development over other skills development if the goal is to implement AI tools as soon as possible.
Set out a training plan
Once training needs have been established, employers can begin to design customised training programmes that address the specific training requirements of their workforce. The most effective way to achieve this is to use an LMS that allows organisations to develop targeted and personalised lessons and courses that ensure training needs are met and skills and knowledge gaps are closed.
Using an LMS, employees can be assigned learning plans that clearly set out the programmes, courses and lessons that they need to follow to achieve their training goals. If employers have set deadlines for the completion of training as determined in the previous stage, they can incorporate this into the learning plan, setting deadlines for the completion of specific courses and notifying employees using LMS notifications that will ensure learners complete training in time.
Looking to create a personal development plan? Find out how to successfully achieve this with a TXP.
Evaluate the effectiveness of training
It’s essential that employers measure training effectiveness to ensure that training needs have indeed been met and skills gaps have been closed. Using an e-learning platform allows employers to easily monitor and measure training progress and effectiveness by using a variety of data-driven tools and technology.
To gather information on the effectiveness of training practices instantly, admins can use LMS reporting tools to measure and monitor a number of elements. For example, reports can be used to measure engagement levels by looking at course completion rates or sign-on rates.
Much like assessments were used in the early stage of the training needs assessment to identify skills and knowledge levels, they can be used once training has been completed to determine knowledge retention rates. Admins may choose to include assessments at the end of an e-learning course or programme. Using e-learning tools means that admins can set criteria that require learners to achieve a specified grade or percentage to move on. For example, at the end of an AI tools skills development course is an assessment that requires learners to achieve a 90% pass mark to complete the course.
Training effectiveness can also be measured by gathering feedback from learners and managers. Using one-on-ones, surveys and performance management tools in a platform such as Totara Perform, employers can easily determine whether training has improved employee performance and outcomes, along with addressing concerns around skills and knowledge gaps.
What is a performance management system? Read our ultimate guide.
Conduct an impactful training needs assessment with a Hubken solution
To get the most out of your training needs assessments and to achieve amazing results, you’ll need an e-learning solution that delivers all the tools and technology outlined above. Our Moodle and Totara solutions are robust and feature-rich enough to support training needs assessments and empower your people whilst helping you achieve your goals and objectives. Get in touch with one of our e-learning experts to find out more or visit our product pages to explore our solutions.
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