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The purpose of a training needs assessment is to identify performance requirements and the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by an agency's workforce to achieve the requirements. An effective training needs assessment will help direct resources to areas of greatest demand. The assessment should address resources needed to fulfill organizational mission, improve productivity, and provide quality products and services. A needs assessment is the process of identifying the "gap" between performance required and current performance. When a difference exists, it explores the causes and reasons for the gap and methods for closing or eliminating the gap. A complete needs assessment also considers the consequences for ignoring the gaps.
Key steps include:
The results of the needs assessment allows the training manager to set the training objectives by answering two very basic questions: what needs to be done, and why is it not being done now? Then, it is more likely that an accurate identification of whom, if anyone, needs training and what training is needed. Sometimes training is not the best solution, and it is virtually never the only solution. Some performance gaps can be reduced or eliminated through other management solutions, such as communicating expectations, providing a supportive work environment, and checking job fit. These interventions also are needed if training is to result in sustained new behaviors needed to achieve new performance levels, for an individual, an occupation, or an entire organization.
If you have any questions regarding training policy or executive development, you can contact the Training and Executive Development Group by sending an email to HRDLeadership@opm.gov.
Agencies are required to evaluate their training programs annually to determine how well such plans and programs contribute to mission accomplishment and meet organizational performance goals (5 CFR 410.202). The Training Evaluation Field Guide is designed to assist agency training representatives in evaluating training program effectiveness and in demonstrating training value to stakeholders and decision makers.
Please visit the OPM Training and Development Wiki to view the field guide and for more information on Training Evaluation
Data were gathered from fifteen federal agency representatives who volunteered their time to attend a one-day working meeting, participate in individual interviews and submit samples of their tools and case studies. This Field Guide reflects the input from the working group.
This Guide is designed for all federal employees who have a role in training evaluation and effectiveness within their agencies. Specific users for this field guide are: