The value of Training Needs Assessments for Apprenticeships
Posted on 24th March 2023 at 14:13
What is a Training Needs Assessment?
Training Assessment (sometimes called Training Needs Analysis or TNA) is the process of identifying the gap in employee training and related training needs. TNA is used to identify performance requirements and the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to achieve the requirements of the role. When setting up an apprenticeship, accurate TNA allows you to identify the learning areas that support the employer to plan meaningful off the job training and the provider to develop an appropriate training plan.
Why use a TNA and what do we focus on for ours?
All new learners joining programme will have a Training Needs Assessment with their line manager and an expert from Fareport before they start their programme. We are looking to assess your staff members’ competence against the appropriate apprenticeship standard, so that we can deliver the best service and support both you and the learner. Skills gaps and prior learning are what we focus on.
Within the TNA process, we aim to:
• Identify the areas with greatest distance to travel
• Ensure the job role and responsibilities are right for the apprenticeship standard
• Get both employer and learner input on their development needs
• Identify and recognise any prior learning
• Ensure we can evidence significant new learning on programme
To support this we:
• Have a clear layout of the TNA form: the trainee can then clearly see what they need to do.
• Use targeted questioning: We aim to make the assessment user-friendly and not difficult to complete.
• Include self-evaluation right from the start.
• Get to a clear picture / comparison between line manager and learner.
At Fareport, we have built on our on-boarding and selection process to include a TNA, formerly known here as a Skills Scan, but we realised learners were scoring themselves on what they could do, rather than couldn’t. Now, the employee, employer and our company work in collaboration by assessing prior and potential learning to achieve a meaningful training plan.
Robust initial assessment is key for any programme for all three parties. The learner will be aware of their specific learning needs and will get the most out of the programme, the employer will understand from the start what is required and how to get the best out of the off the job hours and support the learner, and the provider can deliver a tailored learning journey which can be of more value and within a supported environment.
Why do we focus on gaps?
An apprenticeship is designed to develop/ upskill individuals to reach full occupational competency. Apprenticeship funding rules state that providers must assess the individual’s prior learning and experience through a robust initial assessment of the apprentice’s current competence against the knowledge, skills, and behaviours of the standard. It is important we accurately assess prior learning and in order to support the apprenticeship application because we must ensure we can evidence substantive new learning opportunities.
It is important that the job role is compatible with the apprenticeship, to give the scope to demonstrate all the competencies of the standard. For example, in a team leader role there is a need to manage a team, so there must be a project or team to do this with. We ask prospective learners to work with their line managers to assess prior knowledge by rating themselves against each section of the standard (knowledge, skills and behaviours) for an employer’s opinion (more generally about the job role if this is not for an existing employee), on confidence (1 being least confident and 10 being most confident) and we then hold a meeting to work through this. This ensures all parties are involved from the start.
Why tailor to each apprenticeship standard?
We tailor the TNA to each standard to really make sure the detail is covered, and each area of Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours (KSB) is broken down and considered. We may look at areas more strongly focused on in the standard, perhaps where more depth is required. Perhaps an area that has a heavier weighting for End Point Assessment (EPA) is harder to gain workplace exposure to, or it may even be that we have to justify the learning; for example, if a learner has a lot of relevant work experience or prior learning, this can potentially be used to compensate for a lack of current workplace exposure. We need to ensure that we have a meaningful pathway from start to Gateway.
How do we tailor to each standard?
Within the KSB framework of apprenticeship standards, the areas break down and function for different purposes. The TNA can help to shed further light on their existing competence and development needs.
Knowledge is used to represent the learner’s current grasp of technical detail and know-how required to do their job. The TNA discussion may show evidence that an apprentice has knowledge of a required part of the occupational standard and is already occupationally competent in that area. Where an apprentice has some or ‘emerging’ knowledge, recognition of prior learning may still apply.
Skills is the learner’s current skills to show how competent they are at practically applying their knowledge (past and present) to their role. Skills allow the learner to demonstrate or show they have the ability to do certain things or can acquire experience.
The learner’s current behaviours are their mindset, attitude, and approach. Behaviours can be developed and exhibited in the workplace, for example professionalism and taking responsibility.
Why do we use TNA for apprenticeships?
The areas identified as needing most additional learning will be used to support the employer to plan meaningful off the job training and appropriate training plan with the provider. It’s also like tailoring a personal development plan and allows employers to see what they could focus learning hours on in order to plan this into resourcing for their business. For example, if a learner has highlighted they would like to work on their presentation skills, the manager can then work collaboratively to support presentation preparation and give the opportunity to deliver the next one needed.
We also discuss with the line manager what’s coming up, what are good times of year, particular areas where exposure to more difficult areas can be provided, networking and shadowing opportunities and in-house training.
If learners are aware of their gaps, they will find it a lot easier to reflect and log.
What can happen if not used correctly?
If the approach is not used correctly, there are a range of potential problems. The first is that recognition of prior learning and experience can be missed, meaning learners’ full potential is not demonstrated. In addition, it can mean that the person and the programme are not compatible. As a result, the learner may then be affected by a lack of motivation and drive to complete the programme or complete it in an untimely way. Another possible consequence of inaccurate TNA results is that employers may struggle to provide evidence to meet the off the job requirement of 6 hours a week – they might not be able to relate the activities the learner does during that time, to their development needs; the learning may also be less meaningful for the learner and employer.
Lastly, it may lead to funding not being correctly calculated.
How we can help you get it right
The above doesn’t sound good, does it? We know that the process takes a bit of time, but it really is worth investing that time. You’re looking for a standard and training experience that’s most beneficial to all parties. Fareport can help you deliver this by using the TNA right from the start. At Fareport, we have built on on-boarding and selection process to ensure we have the right person on the right programme.
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