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December 19th, 2023 · 6 min read

5 steps to a more effective training needs assessment

What is a training needs assessment?

The benefits of a training needs assessment

  • Are there skills gaps on an individual level? What about at a team or departmental level?
  • We know that we will need specific skills to support future job openings. Are these skills already present within the workforce?
  • Despite the L&D programs we offer, my workforce is still lacking a specific skill. Are these existing L&D programs inaccessible?

Training needs assessments for the new world of work

5 components of an effective training needs assessment

  • Use a skills taxonomy
    The language of skills can be confusing. Employees and managers may use different words for the same skill or similar roles may have entirely different job descriptions. A skills taxonomy solves this by creating an agreed-upon vocabulary for defining both specific jobs and the specific skills needed to do them. With a skills taxonomy in place, you’ll have a better framework for assessing and prioritizing learning needs. 
  • Fold education into the picture
    Don’t limit the learning paths you offer. Employees may need specific training for a current role, but you’re not only closing skills gaps, you’re filling the talent pipeline for future business needs. Let these bigger-picture strategies drive your L&D and offer broader opportunities for development, whether degree programs, professional certifications or even high school diplomas.
  • Use business goals as a guiding principle for prioritization
    The reality is that you likely won’t be able to address all skills needs equally. Whether you’re working on a tight budget or with limited resources (or both), you’re going to have to be able to prioritize certain roles or areas of the business that require more attention. When going through this exercise, always keep greater organizational goals in mind. Consider which roles support these greater business objectives and will deliver the most impact with the lowest lift in resources.
  • Update skills assessment methods
    The methods by which you assess employee skills should be evaluated regularly. This means ensuring you’re using up-to-date technology and considering accessibility so that employees are willing and able to participate.

    You can always move between quantitative and qualitative assessment methods to paint a more nuanced picture and ensure you’re getting the most accurate and helpful data.
  • Report and analyze the results
    Keep track of all your needs assessment findings and be sure to share them with relevant stakeholders. Record-keeping allows you to track L&D progress and can serve as a starting point for assessments you perform in the future. 

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