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Lecture 5: Learning Needs Analysis

The purpose of analyzing learning needs is to
establish how learning & development (or
training) strategies, policies & practices can
bridge the gap between where the organization is
now and where it needs to be.
In other words, learning & development has a
strategic importance
The business case for L&D should demonstrate
how related programs will meet business needs.
Environmental & stakeholder changes have had
a considerable impact on organizations and
created fundamental shifts in the way L & D is
managed & delivered;
- from training (from instruction) to learning
(developing the individual)
- from HRD to SHRD (emphasis on
competitive advantage)

the shift from training to learning is strategic
One set of influential stakeholders are the
professional organizations, e.g., the CIPD
(Chartered Inst. Of Personnel Development)
which created the phrase learning &
The emphasis is on creating developing
strategies for learning within a culture of
L & D is not the sole responsibility of HR
managers or departments it extends to line
managers as well as top management.
In the literature, learning is concerned with
identifying and satisfying development needs
fitting people to take extra responsibilities,
increasing competence, equipping people to deal
with new work demands, multi-skilling etc.

In the literature, the design, implementation and
evaluation of learning events (or HRD
interventions) has been conveyed in the form of a
cyclical process or system of formal planning.
Typically, the learning cycle has a series of
logical stages which begins with identification of
needs (individual & organization), design of a
delivery system, and concludes with an
Derived from strategic planning, it relies heavily
on analysis, planning and foresight, logic and
L & D as a phenomenon exists, therefore, on
several levels to cater for the transformed
individual ;

- At the practical level: delivering or facilitating
interventions, e.g., training, on-the-job
learning, e-learning, coaching, mentoring,
secondments etc
- At the professional level: hosting a set of
plans, policies, strategies to achieve
predetermined goals, to coordinate the
production of information & evaluation,
providing expertise & advice on L & D etc
- At a partnership level: building relationships
intra-organisationally between HRD & HRM,
HRD & wider organization
- At a strategic level: ensuring that L & D
activity contributes to plugging performance
gaps identified in strategic planning

- At a cultural level: developing a culture that

values learning & principles associated with
- At an extra-organisational level: building
strategic beneficial relationships outside the
organization so that L & D is up to date &
Analysing Learning Needs
Analysing learning needs is done at several
levels and includes;
- extra-organisational



- inter-organisational
transferring learning etc);


- Individual (personal responsibility to acquire

knowledge, skills, aptitude etc)
- intra-organisational (between departments;
cross-fertilisation of ideas, encouraging
- organizational (recognizing uniqueness of
- departmental



- Group (good communication leads to

identifying & solving problems to lead to
learning & improvement)
Note: In reality, many employers do not formally
assess the extent to which employees have gaps in
their skills against formal written job descriptions.
Learning Needs: The Organisation

The first stage of analyzing needs at this level is

to identify the required skills against explicit
corporate & business strategies.
The analysis of learning needs should consider
the fit with the values & priorities of the
It is also important to know that organisational
structures and employee attitudes have an
impact on any interventions.
Analysts stress the key areas of concern for an
organization are;
- Detailed whole organisation job analysis
- Competence
performance management approaches are
used to align training & development to
organisational objectives
- Critical incident analysis

- Priority problem analysis (identify & prioritise

the main problems & devise HRD

Learning Needs: The Job
Job level analysis is related to identifying skills
knowledge & attributes of the job & the outcomes
of such an analysis results in a job description
and job training specification.
Like many such interventions, it is done at
several levels (see Beardwell & Claydon, P. 314)
Learning Needs: The Individual
This level of analysis is essentially a response to
gaps or failures in performance where
individuals arent being effective or where they
have insufficient knowledge, skills or abilities.

Analyst argue that this is the best way for

organizations to address strategic learning
Information is drawn from personal profiles,
appraisal system, assessment centres or through
individual or managerial initiative (see Beardwell &
Claydon, P.316

Facilitating learning & development within the
Some of the key considerations are;
Style of Management: must be within a learning
culture & learning organization. Encouraging a risk
taking and confident approach (see Beardwell &
Claydon, P.290)

The Learning Organisation: emphasis on structure

& operation of an organization & culture. As much
as the LO is open to criticism, it remains an
aspiration. Focus should be on developing a more
inclusive and emotionally involving organization.

Mentoring: Discussed in a separate lecture.