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Needs Assessment Overview

Needs assessment is the foundation of any successful training program. It is a process to identify problems and determine if training is the solution, and is the first step in finding the appropriate solution to accomplish business goals and objectives. This portion of the toolkit is dedicated to providing needs assessment and process examples and will have a variety of instruments that may be used.

Why Conduct a Training Needs Assessment?

  • To determine what training is relevant to your employees' jobs,
  • To determine what training will improve performance,
  • To determine if training will make a difference,
  • To distinguish training needs from organizational problems, and
  • To link improved job performance with the organization's goals and bottom line.
The training needs assessment is often overlooked as the first step in the performance improvement process. A need is not a want or desire. It is a gap between "what is" and "what ought to be." The needs assessment serves to identify the gaps, and considers if the problem can be solved by training. The assessment is part of a planning process focusing on identifying and solving performance problems.

What Steps Do I Take to Conduct a Needs Assessment?

  • Perform a "gap" analysis to identify the current skills, knowledge and abilities of your people, and the organizational and personal needs for HRD activities.
  • Identify your priorities and importance of possible activities.
  • Identify the causes of your performance problems and/or opportunities.
  • Identify possible solutions and growth opportunities.
A variety of tools that may be used to conduct a needs assessment are described and links provided in this toolkit.