Identifying training needs

Identifying what your staff’s training needs are is a crucial first step in ensuring that your workforce is equipped with the skills and knowledge required to perform their jobs effectively and contribute to the success of your business. Even if you only employ a handful of staff, there are a number of principles you can use to get started and make sure the training you provide is right for your team.

Where to start

A good place to begin is by assessing the existing skills and competencies of your employees compared to the skills required for their current roles – and also thinking about any future responsibilities their roles could entail. A skills gap analysis helps you pinpoint areas where training may be necessary.

What you’re looking to find out is:

  • What skills / knowledge / qualifications does the role need (now and in the future) – which you can do by reviewing the job description.
  • What skills does the member of staff doing the role currently have?
  • Is there a gap between the two and, if so, how significant is it?
  • What is needed to close that gap?

Some of this can be done just by going through the job description, but be sure to collect feedback from employees themselves. Conduct surveys or, better still, one-on-one discussions to understand their perspectives on their own training needs, where they feel less confident or require additional support.

It may also be helpful to consult with the individuals’ managers and supervisors, who will be familiar with their team members’ performance and development needs. Hold discussions with them to gather insights into areas where employees may require additional training or development.

In larger organisations, you may be able to look at performance metrics to identify trends or patterns that suggest areas where employees may need training. For example, if customer service satisfaction scores are consistently low, it may indicate a need for customer service training.

Other things to consider include being up-to-date with changes in technology, or emerging trends that your staff may require training on in the forseeable future. Depending on the nature of your business, you may have certain regulations or requirements for employees that need to be included in training. And don’t overlook soft skills, such as communication, leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving. These skills are crucial for employee effectiveness and can be improved through training and development programs.

Developing your plan

By now you should have a good idea of what your employee’s training needs are. The next step is to prioritise them, so you can schedule and budget for training effectively. This can be based on factors like regulatory requirements, how critical a skill is to being able to do their job, ‘future-proofing’ your employee against change, and whether a certain type of training is required by more than one employee.

Using this list, you can then investigate what training is available to meet these needs – either free online resources, courses (online and face-to-face), formal qualifications, etc. And don’t forget to note where in-house training or shadowing may be appropriate.

Some of this is likely to cost money, so remember to plan for costs through an annual training budget. Some financial support for training may be available – we’ve listed a number of funding sources here, but do get in touch with us if you have a specific training funding query.

Once your training plan is up and running, be sure to monitor whether its making a difference. This can be as simple as observations and conversations with staff and managers about whether their level of knowledge and confidence has improved, moving up to fuller surveys depending on the size of your organisation.

Encourage employees to volunteer feedback, and let this inform your next training plan as you keep growing your business and developing your staff.

By taking a planned approach to addressing your employees’ training needs, you can enhance their skills, boost productivity, improve job satisfaction, and ultimately contribute to the success and growth of your business.

Still looking for support?

Adrian O’Neill

Business Relationship Manager

I am the skills specialist for the Growth Hub. Talk to me about building your workforce.

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