Training Needs Assessment - An Important HRD Function

Whenever training programs have to be conducted, there needs to be an assessment of the training needs which needs to preclude everything else.

Assessment of the training needs should be done in an elaborate and methodical manner and should be comprehensive. Before we discuss how training needs are to be assessed, we need to understand what training needs are.

To start with, employees in any organization often have to upgrade their skills or learn new skills to remain competitive on the job. This means that they need to be trained on the latest technologies or whatever skill is needed for them to get the job done.

Employees moving up the ladder might need to be trained on managerial skills and leadership skills. All this means that each employee has a real need to get trained on either technical skills or soft skills. These form the basis for the training needs which need to be identified and acted upon.

Once training needs are identified, then the HRD function must prepare a checklist of employees and a matrix of each employee and his or her training needs. This would give them a scientific method to assess how many employees need to be trained on what skill and whether they have the quorum necessary to conduct the trainings.

Further, this matrix would help them in planning for the trainings in a structured and well thought out manner. There is another aspect here and that relates to the identification of training needs done by employees and their managers.

The point here is that the specific needs that are identified by the managers might be different from those articulated by the employees. Hence, a gap analysis needs to be done which tallies both these and adds to the matrix discussed above.

The third aspect is when the training needs are finalized and the process of preparing for the actual trainings starts. The HRD function must use the matrix of needs to identify those that are compatible with the organizational goals and prepare a final list of training needs that can be circulated to the managers for their approval.

There are many back and forth discussions involved in this process because of the perceptual gaps that are common to organizational culture and organizational behavior. After this, the training programs must be selected which would address these training needs and would be the catalysts for actualizing the training needs and satiating them.

Finally, training needs vary from organization to organization and from employee to employee. There is no point in making all employees undergo specialized trainings and at the same time, there is the need to train all employees on the skills that they need to do their job well. So, the HRD function must be astute to recognize this asymmetry and hence their capability and understanding of the situation makes the difference between successful training programs and those that meander and ramble their way through.

In conclusion, training is a basic aspect of any job and hence, the HRD functions in organizations must pay enough attention and thought to the process. Only where there is a comprehensive plan in place to train employees according to their needs and the alignment of these needs with organizational goals would ensure true progress for the organizations.

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