Training needs assessment

Training needs assessment is the final stage in developing a TREE program, whether it is to prepare beneficiaries to secure formal wage employment, or to begin work in a new economic activity that has been identified.

The ILO defines four main types of skills for employment:

Type Description
Basic/foundation The levels of literacy and numeracy necessary to get work that will pay enough to meet daily needs. As their name implies, these skills are also a prerequisite for continuing in education and training, and for acquiring the transferable technical and vocational skills that enhance the prospect of getting better jobs.
Vocational or technical Specialized skills, knowledge or know-how needed to perform specific duties or tasks.
Professional/personal Individual attributes relevant to work such as honesty, integrity, reliability, work ethic.
Core work skills The abilities to learn and adapt; to read, write and compute competently; to listen and communicate effectively; to think creatively; to solve problems independently; to manage oneself at work; to interact with co-workers; to protect the environment and adapt to environmental regulations and climate change, to work in teams or groups; to handle basic technology; and to lead effectively as well as follow supervision.

The training needs assessment involves mapping the skills required for the new employment against the current capacities of the intended beneficiaries to determine what training is required.

First, the skills needed to be successful in employment/self-employment in the specific activities identified for TREE must be determined.

Skill requirements for wage employment are normally determined through interviews with the employer and review of their job descriptions and assessment materials, where these exist. Additional skill requirements may also be determined, particularly where wage employment has not been familiar for the beneficiaries. Orientation to workplace norms and practices, confidence building to interact with strangers and other core and personal skills training may be required in addition to vocational or technical skills. Specific skill requirements that might be barriers to participation for persons with disabilities, women or others should be noted.

Skill requirements for self- and group-based employment in a new locally-based activity may include skills of all four types.
  • Basic: literacy and numeracy
  • Vocational/technical: in the tools and processes required to produce the product, package, and prepare it for sale.
  • Professional/personal: to manage work and professional relationships, to be a reliable producer, financial and planning skills.
  • Core skills: to learn, adapt, solve problems, and communicate.
The specific skill requirements for a new activity will emerge in part through the earlier studies and the feasibility assessment but should be further validated with relevant stakeholders. Ensuring that women, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups participate in assessing the skill requirements will ensure that training is comprehensive and promotes equity. In conflict contexts, particular attention should be paid to the development of tolerance attitudes and communication and collaboration skills.

Once a clear picture of the skill requirements is established and validated with input from relevant stakeholders, the current capacities and needs of the intended beneficiaries can be determined.

The TREE approach to training needs assessment for beneficiaries involves two types of analysis:
  • Assessment of group capacities and needs, generally common to most of the intended beneficiaries (or to specific sub-groups such as women).
  • Assessment of individual capacities and needs. These are more commonly used for persons with disabilities where it may be necessary to adapt tools, processes, and training delivery to meet individual capacities.
A basic approach to this is to use a grid, where the skill requirements and the current capacities of beneficiaries are mapped, as in the following summary example:

Skill type: Skill requirement: Current level in group (or individual) Training need:
Basic Literacy/numeracy to X level – prerequisite for technical training Average level is below X with women at an average level significantly below that of men. Literacy and numeracy to achieve level X, delivered in sex-segregated classes to ensure women are able to participate fully. Try to schedule other training so that women have time to reach the required level.
Vocational Able to operate machinery, prepare materials, finished product Some familiarity with manually-produced product, limited exposure to machine-based production

Standard machinery requires two hands to operate, some group members are amputees.
Training to achieve competency in operating machinery and completing all stages of production.

Adapted machinery and related training to accommodate physical limitations of specific group members.
Professional Basic accounting and financial planning skills to track expenses and income. Most in the group have limited experience. Some women are currently responsible for managing microloans and could be resources for others. Training in basic finance skills, links to local financial resources.
Core skills Ability to communicate and represent their interests with buyers and others in the market. Most of the group have basic capacity. Members of the X ethnic group are not traditionally active in the main market. Integrate communication skills into other training for all.

Specialized training for members of X group and any others requiring additional skills in communication.

More detailed training needs assessment questionnaires are provided in Doc 3.10 Training Needs Assessment

The end result of the training needs assessment process is a set of training requirements. The next step in TREE is to design, organize and deliver training.