identifying and analysing learning needs

According to the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI), when considering delivering learning, factors such as the nature of work, existing skills, style of delivery, learning preferences of participants and available resources must be considered to help choose the best and most appropriate learning method. Positive learning should be concerned with identifying development needs to help people acquire new skills for changing demands or to take on extra responsibilities.

The implementation of a formal ‘learning needs analysis’, based on data about employees’ capabilities and organisational skill demands, can be seen as a ‘health check’ on learning needs arising in teams, groups or departments. This can be identified by working with line managers to understand the needs of individual teams, and using data on productivity, quality and performance to establish differences between actual and required performance.

identifying and agreeing personal development plans

A performance appraisal – assessing individual or team performance – provides the opportunity to assess individual or team performance, and identify any learning and development needs. These must be clearly linked to business objectives, aligned to the person’s current role or the role they aspire to have (competencies and skills to be successful), and included in any development plan agreed upon between the individual(s) and the person conducting the appraisal – see ‘annual appraisals are changing’ in chapter 8.

flexible response to learning needs

It is advisable to employ more than one type of learning and development delivery method throughout a training experience to ensure the most effective knowledge/skill/attitude transfer. This is sometimes called flexible, or blended, learning, and usually refers to a mixture of online learning and other delivery methods, although it does not necessarily have to include e-learning.  Blended training could include a selection of, but not exclusively:

  • classroom learning or training

  • interactive/hands-on approaches

  • simulations to practice techniques, practical as well as managerial

  • on-the-job training

  • mentoring and coaching

  • membership of professional development bodies.

The CIPD has also developed its approach to focus analysis on key business outcomes – called RAM (for Relevance, Alignment, Measurement) – by establishing:

  • relevance of existing or planned training provision to new business opportunities

  • alignment of the plan to other key organisation strategies (e.g. reward, engagement)

  • measurement and evaluation of learning in terms of expected change and improvement, ROI and KPIs.

learning needs analysis

learning and development for SMEs

Smaller companies often face three issues:

  1. meeting the cost of learning and development

  2. giving employees time to learn or train

  3. fears that employees who develop new skills will leave.

Barriers to learning and skills development are headed by time constraints in slimmed-down business environments, with SMEs often unsure where to find advice and support and unaware of the range of new initiatives to make it easier to employ apprentices.

In such cases, vocational education and training (VET) can offer nationally recognised qualifications relevant to a range of industries. VET enables staff to undertake partial qualifications, short courses, skill sets and units of competency, allowing them to gain the specific skills relevant to their business’s needs. They can train directly with a registered training organisation or on the job, through an apprenticeship or traineeship in certain industries.


Employing an Australian Apprentice (apprentice or trainee) can be a smart investment. Investing in training through an Australian Apprenticeship can provide a business with real benefits and contribute to its bottom line. You can find an apprentice by:

training basics

Training in the more traditional sense may be required when introducing, for example, a new IT system or software, as well as emergency procedures. It is also a legal requirement in occupational health and safety, to assist in achieving the duty of care for the health, safety and welfare of all employees. Such training might cover:

  • first aid delivery

  • machinery and vehicle operators

  • return-to-work induction

  • handling hazardous materials.

Depending on the nature of your business you should have a substantial list of aspects of work and work-related requirements to ensure the healthy and safe conduct of your business and its employees.

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