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TNA Concept Note

TNA Concept Note

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Published by: farhanyousaf on Mar 12, 2008
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02/19/2013

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TNA Concept
This factsheet gives introductory guidance. It:
looks at the nature of training needs analysis (TNA)
considers why TNA is important in an organisational setting
lists the data to include
outlines what follows a TNA exercise.There is an axiom which states that all training provision should be based on theaccurate identification of learning needs. However, all too often the actual process of identifying training needs is undertaken in a 'quick and dirty' fashion or, worse still,omitted altogether. This factsheet outlines an approach that will help to ensure thattraining supports organisational objectives.
Learning or training?
Strictly speaking, the analysis of gaps in knowledge and skills identifies whatemployees will need to learn in order to be fully competent in the jobs they will bedoing now and in the future. How these gaps are filled may involve formal or informaltraining provision, or other opportunities for the necessary learning to be carried out.However, training and learning professionals have been using the acronym ‘TNA’ for the process of identifying these gaps for many years, and this factsheet follows thattradition, without necessarily insisting that the means of filling the gaps is throughformal training.
What is training needs analysis?
 TNA is the systematic gathering of data to find out where there are gaps in theexisting skills, knowledge and attitudes of employees. It involves the gathering of data about existing employees’ capabilities and organisational demands for skills,and the analysis of the implications of new and changed roles for changes incapability.It often flows from the business strategy, as the aim of identifying needs is to be ableto build a plan to offer appropriate learning opportunities to fill the gaps identified andensure that there is sufficient capability for the organisation to meet its objectives.
Why is needs analysis important?
Careful analysis of needs is important because:
Unless the right quality of human capital is present, organisations maystruggle to implement strategies and achieve targets. Analysing theareas where capability needs to be enhanced allows organisations tocreate a human capital investment strategy to support businessobjectives.
Providing learning opportunities to staff enables them to develop andachieve personal and career goals.
 
Well-planned training is an effective retention strategy, particularly for ambitious and externally mobile employees.
All training provision should be designed to meet previously identifiedlearning needs in order to be cost-effective. If an initial assessmentusing the correct assumptions is made about who needs to learn what,then it is likely that effective training or learning provision will result.
Having a clear idea of what needs to be learned and the outcomesexpected provides a foundation for training and learning professionals toevaluate the effectiveness of implementation of the learning strategy.
When to undertake training needs analysis
 TNA can be undertaken at a number of levels.
For the organisation as a whole
- usually undertaken by the Learningand Development (L&D) team or the HR department. The aim is tounderstand the amount and types of learning that will be needed toensure that all employees have the right knowledge, skills and attitudesto perform the jobs they do. Ultimately such a survey is ensuring that theskills will be available for the organisation to meet its strategicobjectives, and may cover the short-term (within a year) or look to thelonger term in order to ensure the supply of the right skills at points inthe future. The latter may be very important if human capital needs aregoing to be changing with business circumstances, if it will take severalyears to either recruit people with the right skills, or develop existingemployees’ skills and knowledge to the level required in the future. Suchan analysis may also investigate the alternative routes of decidingwhether to buy in talent (if it is available) or grow the capabilities of those currently employed.
For a specific department, project or area of work
. These may beone-off projects, where a change or a new way of working, or areorganisation necessitates changes in the jobs people do. Researchwill have to be carried out on what demands the new or changed jobswill make and any gaps identified between employees’ current skills andthe skills needed to meet the new demands. Even if no radical changesare planned senior managers expect their business partners tocontinuously analyse and update the requirements for learning in their areas of responsibility.
For the individual
- often this will take place at appraisal with theemployee and their line manager. Needs may cover enhancing skills toimprove performance on the current job, to deal with forthcomingchanges, or developmental needs that will enable the individual toprogress their career.There is a need for L&D/HR to ensure that analyses at these three levels areconsidered in conjunction with one another. One effective way of doing this is via atwo way dialogue with managers when information is being sought for a TNA, andwhen the results of the analysis are communicated.
 
In some organisations an organisational level analysis is only undertaken for particular reasons, for example, a change in overall business, HR or learningstrategy, or when key leaders change. In others it can be an annual process or updating. At a departmental level, L&D may initiate the process when they feel thattraining or learning provision may have moved out of alignment with businessstrategy, or when major change is being planned. For individuals, the review of current skills and learning needs often is planned into the performance managementor appraisal process. See our factsheets on performance management andperformance appraisal for more information.
Knowledge, skills and attitudes versus competences
 Knowing what jobs will be done, now and in the future is the first step. Then comesthe more detailed analytical process for each category of employees covered:
What capabilities will be required to carry out the job? (the personspecification)
What capabilities do existing employees possess? (a formal or informalskills analysis)
What are the gaps between existing capabilities and the newrequirements? (the learning specification).
Capability analysis
Training professionals have used a breakdown of capabilities into ‘knowledge, skills,attitude’ as a convenient shorthand for analysing needs, and it is a useful way toensure that no requirements are missed. For example, in looking at the requirementsfor competence in a project manager:
Knowledge elements might cover the nature of the projects managed,techniques of project management, and possibly the system used tomanage projects in that part of your organisation.
You would expect high levels of skill in dealing with other people,managing the project team, and perhaps influencing senior managers or important stakeholders.
You might also look for some attitudinal requirements such as attentionto detail, and drive or persistence, to overcome obstacles or to see theproject through.However, the development of competency frameworks has overtaken this in manyorganisations, and these provide more detailed structures for looking at jobrequirements – see our factsheet on competency and competency frameworks for more information.The task then becomes one of comparing current and new roles with the demandsset out in your organisation’s framework, or against generic frameworks. Wherecurrent employees’ capabilities have also been matched against a framework, then itbecomes easier to identify the gaps.

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