The Difference Between Needs Assessment and Training Needs Analysis

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When it comes to crafting training, there are many things to be considered. In order to full grasp what learners need, it must be determined if training is the solution. A needs assessment provides organizations with the ability to pinpoint gaps between the current and desired performance results.

The terms “needs assessment” and “needs analysis” are often confused or wrongly used interchangeably. This confusion is often encountered by those who are trying to put together training courses but may not have much experience doing so. It’s important to note that this is a common mistake and does not reflect a person’s ability to create effective training materials. However, it is important to note the difference between the two terms as a way to bring training to the next level for learners.

What is a Needs Assessment?

A needs assessment is used to help identify existing gaps between the learner’s current state or knowledge and what they want to learn or achieve in order to bring new skills to their career. This is important in determining what training methods and approaches may be used to help meet the needs of each learner. 

When a needs assessment occurs, there are three main questions that typically arise: 

  1. What are the gaps that exist and what should be the outcome?

  2. What are the costs of meeting or ignoring the needs at hand?

  3. What are the gaps that need the most attention?

What is Needs Analysis?

While the needs assessment is used to discover existing gaps and what a learner’s needs are, the needs analysis takes a deeper look into what caused those gaps to occur. The needs analysis can uncover the following:

  1. Who is responsible for the gaps

  2. What may have caused these gaps 

  3. Where these gaps were developed

  4. When these needs started developing 

  5. Why these gaps exist 

To put it in simpler terms, the needs assessment allows instructors to see where learners are currently, and what direction they need to be heading in professionally. The needs analysis provides more in-depth information about how the learner got to their current state in the training process, which, in turn, provides instructors with insight on how to approach training for the individual at hand. 

Those who are new to crafting training materials for learners may not feel equipped to perform such tasks. However, Safety Mentor boasts a team of professionals who are experts at designing training materials. For more information about our offerings, contact Safety Mentor here, and visit our blog for more helpful information and resources about effective training methods. 

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