ba desk-resized-600 Four perspectives to identify employees’ training needs and jump-start job performance.

A 2008 survey published by the Conference Board of Canada reported that Canadian organizations have slashed their employee training budget by 40% over the past decade and a half, and reduced training hours by 30% from 2004. However, due to Canada’s aging and increasingly diverse workforce, skills shortage remains a challenge in the coming years.

As an employer or training manager, you know that training employees is critical to your organization’s success. But have you ever wondered:

  • Where do I begin to identify training needs?
  • Is there a simple roadmap for assessing training needs?
  • How can I target the most essential training needs with my limited training resources?

In my past experience within organizations, I have observed that a typical training needs assessment would be a survey asking employees what training they needed or would like to attend. While gathering input from the employees’ perspective is important, it is only one part of the picture. You will otherwise miss equally vital information that will help you build a worthwhile training plan.

Here’s a simple roadmap that outlines four perspectives to consider when conducting training needs assessments.

table for needs assessment blog 16jun11

Once you have collected all this data, put it all together to identify your top training requirements.Consider these factors to help you prioritize the needs you identified:

  • How immediate is the need?
  • Which needs, if met, will best promote the organization’s goals?
  • Which needs, if not met, will lead to the greatest risks to the organization?
  • What is the degree or extent of the performance gap?
  • Which needs can feasibly be eliminated by training?
  • Which training needs have been identified by most or all perspectives?
  • What are the financial and human resources constraints in meeting the needs?

The lingering global economic recession’s far-reaching impacts on trade and industry result in more careful allocation of investment dollars. Cost-saving measures cut down business expenses such as human resources training and development. Determining the real priorities in your workforce’s training needs is a smart, cost-effective means to fast-track peak-level performance within budget.


‘ Learning and Development Outlook 2009: Learning in Tough Times. The Conference Board of Canada. August 2009.