Author – Bryant Nielson,
Summary: As you are assessing your organization’s training needs, remember that some needs occur because they are required or because they recur on a frequent basis or both. Let’s explore this area of needs assessment.
While you are conducting an overall needs assessment, you may find that certain training needs must be repeated, while some of them are requirements of a job or a job family. In fact, you may have already uncovered some of these needs as you delved into the areas of job and task-related training. But it’s a good idea to categorize these needs separately so that they can be integrated into the overall training plan on a regular or required basis. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s work with training needs in the following categories: recurring, required, and both recurring and required.
First, what is a recurring training need? Typically, a recurring training need is a set of knowledge, skills, or abilities that the organization wants its associates to repeat on a regular basis, usually annually. This type of training could be a products and services certification, a customer service or customer relations training program, or even an annual industry update. Recurring pieces usually serve to put everyone on the same footing in terms of knowledge and ability in that particular group of competencies.
Required training can fall under the same category, that is, a group of competencies that the organization requires. But required training by itself is usually a one-time offering, such as a new product rollout, new service standards, or training for mergers and acquisitions. On the other hand, a regulating body or agency can levy training in many different areas, and require that the organization certify its results. For example, financial service providers may be required to provide and certify training related to the latest overhaul of that industry. In some areas, organizational associates may be required to take training when they first come into a job. For example, new-hire flight attendants are required by the FAA to take and pass a comprehensive safety course based on the airline’s aircraft, rules regarding passenger safety, and even first aid. You may have discovered some required needs in your job and task analysis, but be sure to make the distinction between those needs that are required by a regulating agency and those that are not.
Recurring and required training is a combination of both types of needs, i.e. competency areas that are required by either the organization or a regulating body and are given on a regular basis. For example, flight attendants are required to take training and be certified on safety features on an annual basis in order to maintain employment. This is also a FAA requirement. In financial services, certain employees are required to take and pass regulatory training every year – and the organization must certify its results within a given time period.
Assessing these needs can be difficult, because you may uncover bits and pieces of them within your job and task assessments. For example, certain parts of person’s job may be related to a particular regulation or group of regulations. But in regard to training needs that are required by a regulating agency and may be recurring, the best place to start is with the organization’s legal counsel or legal department. In many cases, you may not need to conduct a “formal” needs assessment – a series of conversations may help you uncover the need. And most likely, the legal department has already organized a listing of required training components. If that is not the case, there are usually legal experts within the various departments of an organization and they should not be overlooked. In regard to organizationally required training needs, set up conversations with division executives and stakeholders in order to determine what pieces of knowledge they would like to see as requirements or recurring requirements. Again, it may be as simple as a conversation versus a formal needs assessment. Another way to reach for these training needs is to include this aspect in your job and task analysis that we’ve already discussed. Many times the employees themselves are the ones who will be able to tell you about the most important recurrent and required features of training.
Our next area, future and anticipated training needs, is the final area of needs assessment.