4.3 How are needs assessed?
The level of needs assessment depends on the financial and
personnel resources and the availability of time to carry out the task, In
formulating a strategy for national training programmes, it is advisable to
conduct first a national level evaluation to identify where vital improvements
are necessary, followed by an assessment in these priority areas.
In situations where resources are limited to carry out a
thorough needs assessment, an individual, or a small group with experience in
the field and with a good insider knowledge of the country, organisation or
agency can be used to identify the needs. This however, may reduce the sense of
ownership, participation and belonging to the programme by the others. The
persons who assess or identify the needs may prove to be useful as resource
staff within the actual training programme. This is due to the reality that
understanding a need is half-way to resolving it.
The technical process of carrying out a thorough needs
assessment can be very complicated. Often, the training process itself is the
best medium where organisational, institutional or individual needs are
identified. However, a systematic assessment may be required by funders, or,
becomes necessary to involve top management and the staff in the idea of
training. It will also enable more realistic definition of objectives and
For the purpose of this document a complex needs assessment is
not considered. There are several books that cover the various techniques that
can be employed, Some of these are listed in the bibliography. The following
tables, selected and modified from the UNCHS Manual for Training Needs
Assessment in Human Settlements Organisations provide a simple
approach to needs assessment. They should be treated as sample forms to
stimulate the design of nationally or institutionally appropriate ones.
Diagram of the Training Needs
The following is a comprehensive and perhaps an
idealised approach to needs assessment Other and simpler approaches may also