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This section has guidance on carrying out a Training Needs Analysis of your organisation and promoting learning across the whole organisation.

Before you start

There are some things you can put in place that will make it easier to carry out a Training Needs Analysis. Here are some questions you can ask to help you identify what those are.

  • Do we have a strategic and operational plan?
  • Do we have an appraisal system?
  • Do all staff have up to date job descriptions?
  • Do all staff have written objectives?
  • Do we have a competency framework or use National Occupational Standards?
  • Do we have a training strategy or statement of committment supporting training and learning?
  • Do we have effective formal and informal consultation processes across the organisation?

The more questions you can answer ‘yes’ to the easier it will be to carry out, implement and evaluate a Training Needs Analysis.

We have developed a diagnostic tool to help you identify and meet organisational training needs. This identifies the organisational processes that support training and learning and signposts you to external resources that can help you plug any gaps. You can find it in Appendix 1 of our full Training Needs Analysis toolkit.

We have a formal performance management process which includes development planning. The development plans inform the training needs analysis – as does any strategy that may bring the charity to a new direction or skill set that we feel should be trained to all.

Alexandra Hartley
Director of Learning and Development, GOSHCC

Strategy and objectives

If you don’t already have a strategy in place then your Training Needs Analysis needs to start with defining your organisational strategy and objectives. NCVO has information on how to define your organisational strategy and develop a strategic plan.

Once you have a clear picture of the organisation’s strategy you can review the knowledge and skills needed for the organisation to acheive its objectives and address any weaknesses.

Use a SWOT analysis (pdf, 65Kb), to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing your organisation. Then ask the following questions about the skills, knowledge and behaviours in your organisation. You can do this exercise with your senior management team. You may also want to include other staff and volunteers and / or your Board depending on the size of your organisation. When thinking about the knowledge within your organisation, remember to include staff, volunteers and trustees.


How can you capture the good practice and expertise that already exists?

How can you build on the strengths, skills and knowledge already in the organisation?


What skills, knowledge or behaviours could help address the identified weaknesses?


What skills, knowledge or behaviours that could help your organisation make the most of the opportunities?


What skills, knowledge or behaviours that could help your organisation manage and overcome the identified threats?

The answers you come up with in response to these questions will help you identify the knowledge already in your organisation. You can then make plans to address any knowledge and skills gaps.

Creating a learning culture

A learning culture is one in which learning is valued and is embedded across an organisation. It takes time and commitment to establish a learning culture. However, there are a number of practices and tools you can use to promote and encourage learning.

People learn a lot from teaching others. Most people have a range of skills and knowledge, some of which may not be visible in their daily jobs but that is still useful to the organisation. You can encourage people to share what they know with others – in writing, at team meetings, at staff conferences and events, either informally or more formally. You may want to set up staff mentoring schemes whereby staff and volunteers are supported to share particular skills across different teams or levels of seniority.

There are initiatives such as Learning at Work day which encourage people to participate in taster sessions on topics which may be unrelated to their daily work. See the Campaign for Learning website for ideas.

Investors in People is a quality standard which encourages good practice in developing people’s skills. As an externally assessed standard, Investors in People also means your work in this area is recognised and they will help you to identify areas where you can improve. There is more information on the Investors in People website or in Not for Profit, Fully Professional.

Skilled managers

Line managers need to have the necessary skills to work with staff and volunteers to help them identify their training needs and the knowledge about how to meet them.

Having managers with the core competencies to carry out a training needs analysis of their team is partly about recruiting managers with those competencies and partly about supporting your managers to develop these skills, including providing training for them.

The core competencies for a number of roles in third sector organisations, including leaders and managers, are outlined in our National Occupational Standards guides. These set out the competencies that people need to have to be able to do their jobs well and the additional skills they can develop to progress their career.

The National Occupational Standards for managers and leaders have information about the competencies that good managers should have. You can use these to write job descriptions and guide annual appraisals for your managers. They can also guide your managers about the things they can do to support learning within their teams, particularly the unit on Providing learning opportunities for colleagues.

If senior management and line managers can appreciate and become enthusiastic about the value of learning and development for both themselves and others, this sets the tone for the organisations. The Governance and Leadership team at NCVO can help with ideas and opportunities for developing leadership.