By Corporate English Solutions

29 August 2022 - 13:06

Effective Training Needs Analysis

In a rapidly changing business environment, training needs analysis needs to be forward- thinking. But many organisations still use traditional methods and focus on current skills gaps. How can you adapt your needs analysis to be more future-focused? We share five essential tips to do this and help futureproof your business.


Reading time: 8 minutes

There is one thing that most organisations have in common. A shortage of skills. Almost 90% of companies admit they currently have skills gaps. That’s why upskilling and reskilling employees are among the top 3 L&D priorities. And both begin with effective training needs analysis.

The pandemic has taught us that having the right people with the right skills at the right time is crucial for adapting quickly to change. So, today's training needs analysis must meet key business needs and objectives to help organisations stay agile and competitive.

While many L&D professionals are working hard to close the skills gap, it is not enough to focus on the now. The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025, 85 million jobs will disappear and 97 million will be created. 

Preparing your business to thrive in the future means that your skills gap analysis must be forward-thinking. However, this doesn’t mean getting rid of established methods – rather adapting them to anticipate future needs. 

It can be challenging to know what the future will be like, but it’s not impossible. Read on to discover five tips for carrying out an effective training needs analysis that can futureproof your business.

1. Plan 3-5 years ahead

How do you get started? According to a recent study, the secret to future business success is creating a skills-based organisation. Focusing on having the right skills rather than specific “jobs” or “roles” is a more urgent need. 

So, it’s essential to plan 3-5 years ahead to ensure employees have key skills for the future. And that these skills align with your organisation’s vision and business objectives.

To help you identify future skills needed for your training needs analysis, here are some essential questions to consider:

  • What are the most popular skills on the rise in your industry?
  • How mobile and transferable are key skillsets? Can they easily shift to different departments or geographic locations?
  • Which jobs in your organisation will most likely become automated in the future?
  • What kind of roles (that do not exist today) will be most urgently needed?
  • How prepared are you for unexpected turnover of valuable skillsets (e.g., digital skills)?

In these times of frequently-changing business environments, we know it can be challenging to predict future needs. That’s why it’s important to keep up with industry and market trends. One simple tip is to study job advertisements (especially your competitors’) to see what types of skills are growing in demand. This will also help you know how to write a training needs analysis that is future focused.

2. Create future skills frameworks

Once you’ve identified the key skills for the future, then what? Prioritise those skills that will have the most impact on your 3–5-year plan. Then you’ll be prepared to create future skills frameworks. These frameworks will support current roles in your organisation that will need to advance toward these future skills. 

Business objectives and industry trends may very well change in the next 3-5 years. One suggestion is to create parallel skills inventories and learning strategies that could adapt to shifting situations. This approach can also assist you in knowing how to do a training needs analysis that is forward-thinking.

For example, you could make room in your L&D plans for digital skills training for current non-technical roles in your organisation. Anticipating these types of changes is a more efficient approach than waiting until the need arises. Plus, it allows you to upskill current staff versus going through the costly process of hiring new talent.

Finally, think about how you can leverage technology to help you create both future skills inventories and a training needs analysis. You could use talent analytics and skills management software that provide data and forecast recommendations. 

3. Integrate future frameworks into current skills map

After creating your future skills frameworks, compare them with current skills maps and matrices to identify similarities and differences. These can later be used to build your learning strategy and plans. This process will also help you distinguish between current and future skills and then prioritise their development.

Then, update your skills maps with these high-priority future areas. Start by gathering data and carrying out a training needs analysis for your current talent. Consider using talent management systems to audit future as well as present skills needed against the current capabilities of your different teams.

One of the advantages of training needs analysis is that it allows you to hear directly from your employees. To capture a strong picture of skills gaps, make sure to use a range of assessments that best fit your organisation’s context. Here are some useful tools to consider:

  • surveys & questionnaires
  • interviews
  • on-the-job observations
  • 360-degree feedback
  • simulations & formal tests.

4. Detect emerging skills gaps

So, how exactly do you identify skills gaps that will appear in the future? Where’s the best place to start? 

Begin by reviewing your internal talent pipeline and career succession plans. Doing so will help you predict potential gaps in key roles needed for future success. Then, assess which skills could be lost through resignations or retirement in the next 3-5 years. 

Don’t forget that your teams are also a great source of knowledge. Most leading organisations are using employee listening techniques to better understand employee needs through:

  • informal conversations
  • focus groups
  • town halls
  • pulse surveys
  • internal social platforms.

Another approach for identifying emerging skills gaps is to use Continuous Performance Management to get a quick, real-time view of performance, particularly low performance. But make sure your managers have the skills needed to effectively conduct Continuous Performance Management

Through regular check-ins, managers can gain a deeper understanding of individual team members’ career pathways, helping to anticipate future gaps more accurately. This process will also support managers know how to carry out a training needs analysis for their teams.

5. Identify barriers to skills development and training early

Finally, consider how you will assess the barriers to closing skills gaps before beginning with learning design. This is a crucial step that many L&D teams fail to do. By identifying the most common barriers to learning, you can have open conversations across your organisation and collaborate before the learning design process. 

For example, the most common barriers to learning are lack of time and training that’s not relevant to workplace needs. If you anticipate these kinds of barriers, you can focus more on designing efficient learning pathways, such as personalised learning and microlearning solutions. Adopting a modern approach to workplace learning will also help you gain greater buy-in from busy managers and their teams from the start. 

So, make sure all your hard work in creating a future-focused skills gap analysis is taken into account before the learning design stage. You will not only save time and resources but also ensure your L&D programmes’ success. And you will appreciate how training needs analysis benefits both your employees and organisation.

Final thoughts

When combined, these five tips can support you in building a future-proof organisation. 

Also, be open with employees about which skills are crucial for business success. Being transparent about the current and future skills needed will help them understand why upskilling and reskilling are important. It can also support you in retaining talent, as employees tend to value organisations that create learning opportunities. 

Bonus tip: make sure to use your future skills frameworks to update job descriptions. So, when it’s time to recruit new employees, you will focus on hiring those that have these valuable future skills.

Consultation, skills gap and training needs analysis is at the heart of our training solutions. We accurately identify learning needs and set goals in line with your organisation’s objectives. We then work with you and your teams to develop a customised programme that targets your needs.

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