The Training Needs Analysis – measuring skill sets and knowledge for a proactive approach to aged care training and coaching.

Generally, when we commence working with a new organisation we conduct a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) with care staff and the coordinator. When we first meet people we don’t know the extent of their knowledge, their past experiences or their confidence in their abilities. Yes, we could find all this out over time, however we are often on site for short periods and need to be able to get through a lot of work during those visits. Conducting a TNA assists us in quickly gaining an idea of where people – both coordinators and staff – sit on the knowledge / skills spectrum.

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Why do we need this information?

We don’t want to waste anyone’s time. If we find a coordinator is competent in an area we can then focus on other areas where they have identified a need to improve or upskill. For direct care staff, we use the TNA to inform the service-wide aged care training plan or strategy.

The TNA is also a way of highlighting to coordinators and staff that aged care is more than just a meals program or that the goal posts have moved – are they up to date with the latest changes brought about by the aged care reforms?

Our TNA’s have evolved over the years as programs have changed and new skillsets have been identified. While we use these as part of the consultancy work we conduct, TNA’s can also be used internally by organisations as part of their continuous improvement strategy and as a way of developing and retaining staff. So let’s look a little more closely at the Training Needs Analysis and how you could apply it within your service.

What is a Training Needs Analysis?

A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is a formal way of working out where a person’s skill sets and knowledge sit in relation to industry or organisational requirements. It is the first step that should be taken before any training or coaching is commenced. It allows the trainer or coach to understand where the gaps are in the person’s knowledge.

For example, the CDCS TNA for care staff captures skill sets and knowledge required by support staff working in aged care.

A TNA should also note any previous training and past work experience that the person has completed as these are platforms that can be built on.

Why conduct a Training Needs Analysis?

An overview of completed TNA’s can assist in providing a snapshot of the organisation’s workforce and the generic needs across the organisation as well as the needs of specific work units.

Rather than being reactive, organisations can be proactive in providing targeted and appropriate training. This minimises the risk of wasting time and resources on inappropriate training courses, on topics that have already been covered or on training that doesn’t meet the needs of the role.

A TNA can also identify where a coordinator needs to focus their time when coaching or mentoring other support staff.

A further benefit of conducting a TNA is that it can highlight how the employee might learn best. There is little benefit in choosing an online learning platform if the individual who needs to undertake the training is unable to use or access a computer.

When to conduct a Training Needs Analysis

Mentoring - SmallA TNA should be conducted whenever a new staff member commences working in the organisation.

It is also a good idea to request that an external training provider conduct a TNA prior to commencing the training of staff. This helps to stop the problem where staff are asked to repeat training modules due to a change of training provider.

Is the TNA a test of ability?

A TNA is not a test. The person conducting the TNA should explain the use of the TNA within the context of the work the person is doing or the training they will be undertaking. A low score in an area is merely an indicator that training or support is required to upskill the person and allows a coach or trainer insight into where they can best use their time.

Tips for conducting a TNA with staff

The TNA should be conducted one on one and preferably in an area that allows for privacy.

Let the person know that this is not a test but rather a way to identify gaps in skills and knowledge and assists the organisation in knowing how to help upskill the person.

The individual should be encouraged to self–identify any gaps in knowledge, however if the person appears to be overconfident (and there is good reason for the assessor to doubt the veracity of the self-rating) the assessor should ask additional questions to assist the person to become aware of their knowledge shortfalls.

Try to avoid ‘leading’ the person to an answer. While it may be necessary to contextualise a question, sometimes providing too much information will lead the person into rating themselves higher and providing false confidence.

While it is acceptable to read out questions around skill sets and knowledge for individuals with low language, literacy and numeracy (LLN), where your TNA includes a section on LLN this section should not be read out to the individual

Keep in mind that a TNA can assist in identifying aspects of a person’s skills and knowledge, but these skill sets need to be validated by observation of the person in the role.

CDCS Training Needs Analysis

The CDCS TNA for support workers (care workers) is designed for use in remote and rural settings however it also has relevance across the sector. It captures the key skill sets and knowledge required by staff working in the aged care sector and can form part of your organisation’s approach when developing a service-wide training plan.

Support workers should be assessed annually by their supervisor (coordinator) using the care worker TNA. By carrying out an annual review, the organisation can measure the success of training delivered as well as their internal training plan.

We have recently updated our care worker TNA to a writable PDF. If you would like a copy, enter your details below to access a copy for use in your own organisation (and yes, it's free – just for you!).

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