Identifying your Training Needs
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MTS offers learning needs analysis (also known as Training needs analysis or TNA) as a consultancy service. Please contact us to find out how accurate identification of learning needs can result in more targeted and effective training programmes.
The first step of the training cycle is essential to ensure that the appropriate training is delivered. Identification of leaning needs can take a number of different forms depending on the particular situation:
In its simplest form, an individual may know that they need to be able to operate a particular analytical technique, e.g. HPLC. Therefore training on the theory and application of the technique is required and a generic pre-prepared course is likely to be suitable. The learning need has been easily identified. However it is important that the learning objectives of the selected course match up with the expectations of the learner. MTS training courses are focussed on the learning outcomes and these are provided to the learner to help them assess whether a particular course is suitable for them. In addition, a pre-course questionnaire is completed by the learner so that the training can be tailored for their particular needs.
A team manager of a stability analysis team was experiencing problems relating to missed deadlines, thought to be linked to a recent reorganisation of staff. MTS performed a learning needs analysis for the team focussing on the processes involved in their core task of producing analytical results for stability samples. The activities which were taking longer than expected, and thus resulting in missed deadlines, were identified, and associated learning solutions were recommended. In addition, a defective booking system for the analytical instrumentation, an activity not related to learning, was identified as an influential factor in the problem.
Identification of learning needs may also be performed in a general way on a group or department to assess all the skills and knowledge necessary for the group to operate effectively and efficiently. In this situation a task/job/role analysis for the different members of staff in the group followed by an assessment of the current competencies in all required activities will provide information which may be used to develop a training programme for the group. See case study 2 for an example of a study performed by MTS on an analytical quality control department.
A learning needs analysis was performed by MTS for a Quality Control Group who wanted to assess their current competencies with respect to the technical abilities of their staff and to implement a training strategy for improving that competence. A task/job/role analysis was performed for each of job roles in the group and the activities performed by each role were identified. For each activity a competence standard was written which defined the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics required to perform the activity. This competence standard was split into a number of ‘ability statements’. The staff members in the group were then asked to complete a questionnaire which involved assigning a rating for each ability statement and thus provide a self assessment of their competence. They were interviewed to review the data obtained from the questionnaire and obtain any relevant extra information and line managers were also interviewed to determine if they agreed with the self assessment. A large number of learning needs were identified from this analysis. To prioritise the learning solutions a series of focus group sessions were held with members of the group. MTS delivered a final report containing all the findings and also a prioritised list of recommendations for implementing suitable learning solutions.
A more complex identification of learning needs may be required when a customer has a particular problem that is likely to be linked to a learning need. This may be highlighted by under-performance or inefficiencies in the workplace. MTS offers a learning needs analysis service which can investigate problems and make recommendations for learning solutions, if appropriate. An example of learning needs analysis performed to investigate missed deadlines experienced by a stability analysis team is summarised in case study 1.