What is Training Needs Analysis?

The swiftly shifting nature of business environment requires organizations’ to make changes or fetch improvements in their acting, operating and learning styles and insists them to embrace a more flexible and adaptive approach to carry out their functions in order for being effective and on top form. A well designed, customized and employee-tailored training program can help organizations stay on top ahead of their competitors (Coulson-Thomas (1997).

The importance of training to attain specific knowledge, to learn new skills or to continuously improve and update existing skills and knowledge cannot be overemphasized as Pont (2003) stresses that learning and acquiring new skills and knowledge is indispensable and should be done on a continuous basis in order to develop the knowledge base and skills of the employees. He added that this is how employees of an organization can well contribute towards the achievement of the organizational goals by performing their job effectively and efficiently assigned to them and training is the means that justifies the approach (Buckley and Caple, 2007).

However, in most cases, training programs are unable to fetch the expected outcome as anticipated as Reed and Vakola (2006) deduced that training programs are planned and tediously designed without understanding the precise development needs of the employees, thus fail to make an impact in improving employees’ performance. Understanding the training needs in the first place can ensure the success of training programs (Peterson, 1998).

TNA is not only a process of determining the performance gap in employees’ actual and expected performance but it is, in actual fact, more associated with spotting people’s learning and advancement needs (Armstrong, 2003). Clarke (2003) states that TNA helps decide the necessity of training in closing the performance gaps, to whom training should be offered or provided, methods and contents of training and the implications of training. According to CIPD (2008), the connection between TNA and business strategy is well established as determining TNA facilitates organizations produce a plan with the help of which they offer learning and development prospects to their employees to close the performance discrepancies found out in order to ensure that they are adequately competent and capable of achieving organizational goals. In consideration of that Boydell (1976: p.3) specify that

… the identification of training needs must therefore be resolved before training itself can be usefully undertaken.

Reid and Barrington (1999) state training objective as an articulated purpose of bringing change in the behavior of learners. McConnell (2003) specifies two levels of training objectives – determining what needs to be learned and consequences of learning. McGehee and Thayer (1961 cited in Buckley and Caple, 2000) specify that training needs occur in organization, group and individual areas due to performance gaps in each area. Boydell and Leary (1996: p.24) identify three types of training – Implementing (doing things well), Improving (doing things better), and Innovating (doing new and better things) and show their applications in satisfying organization, group and individual training needs.

According to Clarke (2003), TNA is a systematic approach through which an organization gathers data on its employees’ knowledge, skills and attitudes to assess performance problems. Data relating to performance gaps can be gathered from a variety of sources, for instance, information from quality circles and issues like turnover, absenteeism, discipline and grievances, accident etc. can be good sources of data (Peterson, 1998). Other sources of data can be organization reviews, surveys, interviews, functional audits, benchmarking etc. (Buckley and Caple, 2007) and HR and Succession plans, ‘critical incidents’ survey, performance appraisal and so on (Bee and Bee, 1994), which form the basis of training needs analysis (Schein, 1999).



1. Armstrong, M. (2003), A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice, Kogan Page, London.
2. Bee, F. and Bee. R. (1994), Training Needs Analysis and Evaluation, IPD, London.
3. Buckley, R. and Caple, J. (2000), The Theory and Practice of Training, Kogan Page, London.
4. Buckley, R. and Caple, J. (2007), The Theory and Practice of Training, Kogan Page, London.
5. Boydell, T. (1976), A Guide to the Identification of Training Needs, British Association for Commercial and Industrial Training, London.
6. Boydell, T. and Leary, M. (1996), Identifying Training Needs, IPD, London.
7. CIPD (2008), Identifying Learning and Training Needs, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, [Online], Available: http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/lrnanddev/needs/idtlneeds [Accessed: 12 April, 2009]
8. Clarke, N. (2003), “The Politics of Training Needs Analysis”, Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 141-153.
9. Coulson- Thomas, C. (1997), “The Future of the Organizations: Selected Knowledge Management Issues”, The Journal Of Knowledge Management, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 15-26.
10. McConnell, J. H. (2003), How to Identify Your Organization’s Training Needs: A Practical Guide to Needs Analysis, Amacom, Newyork.
11. Peterson, R. (1998), Training Needs Assessment: meeting the training needs for quality performance, Kogan Page, London.
12. Pont, T. (2003), Developing Effective Training Skills, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Wimbledon.
13. Reed, J. and Vakola, M. (2006), “What role can a training needs analysis play in organizational change?”, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 393-407.
14. Reid, M. A. and Barrington, H. (1999), Training Interventions: Promoting Learning Opportunities, CIPD, London.



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