Training Needs Assessment
TNA report presents the results of the Training Needs Assessment (TNA) conducted as part of the Restructuring and Capacity Building of EPD Punjab. The objective of this exercise was to assess the Environmental Protection Department’s (EPD) and other associated institutions’ capacity development needs to meet future challenges. The TNA was also aimed at identifying a comprehensive list of knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the future state of EPD. The TNA groundwork;
- started with some baseline research to understand the human resource dynamics
- then went into identification of a sample of employees to conduct the TNA on,
- also included segregation of the TNA into different thematic areas keeping in mind the future needs of the organization
- focused on development of a tool to cater to the TNA exercise
A total of 6 TNA sessions were held with approximately 50 to 60 participants in each session; these included both gazette and non-gazette officers of the EPD. The six sessions focused on thirteen different thematic areas. Some of these thematic areas area part of the current state already, however some additional elements were added to cater to the future state of the EPD. Nine of these areas related to technical elements of the environmental value chain, and Four of these areas related to the support functions.
The data for the TNA was gathered using specially designed questionnaires for each one of the six sessions. Each questionnaire aligned with the relevant thematic area; thirteen in total.
Open ended discussions were carried out at the start of every TNA session and participants were asked about the key issues and challenges they faced while performing their jobs. This helped set the tone for the rest of the session. The participants were very enthusiastic and provided valuable input related to the environmental governance framework in place, including suggestions for improvement and better integration/linkages among government bodies for transparent environmental monitoring and enforcement in the province of Punjab. These discussions were followed by questionnaires filling activity for which a four stage approach was adopted.
- The first part of this included a role analysis to understand what the responsibilities of the person filling the questionnaires entails.
- This was followed by identification of gaps focusing on the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the different participants, in terms of relevance and also competence.
- The third part consisted of identifying the training requirements focusing on the relevance of the training required, the target competence to be acquired, and finally prioritizing which elements should be focused on first
- The final part of the questionnaire focused on the learning style as to what would be the best way to deliver the desired trainings.
The questionnaires also included open ended questions for the participants to provide recommendations and suggestions focusing on effectiveness and efficiency. The sessions ended with thematic area group discussions where participants were got an opportunity to have a brainstorming sessions followed by a presentation on the required knowledge, skills and training including the different topics to be covered, their personal and departmental objectives, time frames for the trainings to be received and preferred learning styles.
The analysis that follows shows the responses on the thirteen thematic areas identifying areas where the most focus is required. There are a total of three tables, one focusing on the Knowledge, one on the Skills and the final one on Attitudes.
- Green represents areas of high relevance and high competence. The darker the green, the better the current situation
- Red represents areas of low relevance and low competence. The darker the red, the worse the current situation
- Amber represents areas which are in between the two extremes.
This heat map approach clearly identifies areas which are relevant and also where the staff believes they are competent.
The staff at environmental institutions should have the relevant knowledge and also the right competence level to perform their duties. Knowledge revolves around the understanding of the different concepts that are needed to perform your day to day tasks in an effective manner.
Based on the results in the table, it is clear that the respondents were self-aware as they clearly marked the technical areas as highly relevant to their job, responses varying between 32% for Environmental Modelling to 52% for Environmental Complaints. However the worrying aspect is that the current competence level for the technical areas is nowhere near Expert level. The best response received was for Environmental Regulation where 29% of the respondents felt they were at Expert level. It is clear that for the technical areas the competence level sits at Moderate level for the majority of the technical areas, which is not sufficient enough for an institution that should be the expert in environmental issues.
For all technical areas the Expert level competence ranges between only 0% - 12 %, excluding Environmental Regulation where 29% of respondents rated their knowledge at Expert level. This clearly highlights the need to arrange knowledge sessions on all of the technical areas to pull the majority of the responses to a more acceptable level. The areas which have been marked as highly relevant i.e. the technical areas lack the competence levels that are needed for an institution of this importance. The future training exercises need to be focused on the technical areas bringing the majority human resource up to at least the Fully Competent level. Likewise respondents who rated themselves Fully Competent ranged between 16% - 30% which shows that the competence levels need to be improved; from their current position i.e. on average Moderate. It’s notable that half of the respondents rated the knowledge for all technical areas as of Medium or High relevance, however only a third of the respondents where either at Fully Competent or Expert levels. In terms of the technical areas, the strongest current competence is in the area of Environmental Regulation (49% respondents rated either Fully Competent of Expert) and the weakest is in Multilateral Environmental Agreements (16% respondents rated either Fully Competent of Expert). Feedback from the six TNA sessions held also suggested that the employees focus on the legal requirements rather than using their initiative to solve problems. Environmental Modeling is another area that received a low percentage i.e. only 21%. Predictive analysis is one of the most modern and important techniques that is being used across the world to address problems early before they turn into disasters, a skill that is clearly lacking in the current setup.
Support functions are areas where quality human resource is easily available so even though the current competence levels are not up to the mark, it is an area that can be easily improved by external hiring and internal trainings.
The staff at environmental institutions should also have the relevant skills and also the right competence level to perform their duties. Skills revolve around the ability to use the possessed knowledge through a set of activities to achieve efficient day to day results.
Based on the result, the worrying aspect is that the current competence level for the technical areas is nowhere near Expert level. For all technical areas the Expert level competence ranges between only 1% - 12 %. This clearly highlights the need to arrange skill development sessions on all of the technical areas to pull the majority of the responses to a more acceptable level. The areas which have been marked as highly relevant i.e. the technical areas lack the competence levels that are needed for an institution of this importance. The future training exercises need to be focused on the technical areas bringing the majority human resource up to at least the Fully Competent level. Likewise respondents who rated themselves Fully Competent ranged between 24% - 41% which shows that the competence levels need to be improved; from their current position i.e. on average Moderate. It’s notable that half of the respondents in most cases and in some areas even two thirds of the respondents rated the skill level for all technical areas as of Medium or High relevance, however only about a third of the respondents where either at Fully Competent or Expert levels. In terms of the technical areas, the strongest current competence is in the area of Environmental Modeling (49% respondents rated either Fully Competent of Expert) and the weakest is in Environmental Economics (28% respondents rated either Fully Competent of Expert). This is in contrast to the responses received in the knowledge section where Environmental Modeling was received one of the lowest ratings i.e. only 21%. Trainings in future need to focus on areas that are highlighted as having low competence across the knowledge, skills and attitudes analysis. It’s notable that more than 85% of the respondents felt that Multilateral Environmental Agreements and Environmental Complaints are two areas which are at least of Medium relevance whereas the competence levels for both are lagging.
Support functions are areas where quality human resource is easily available so even though the current competence levels are not up to the mark, it is an area that can be easily improved by external hiring and internal trainings. However the responses are pretty evenly spread when it comes to relevance which is not correct given these skills are key in the modern world where everyone needs to understand IT. It should have been rated as highly relevant as none of the technical areas can function without the use of IT in the current environment. In addition procurement and human resource management are two areas where the competence level has turned out to be quite low. No respondents rated their skills at Expert level even though about half of the respondents thought that these two areas where either of Medium or High relevance.
Even if the employees have the right level of knowledge and carry the skills needed to perform their duties, it cannot work without having the right attitude. Therefore an analysis of the different behavioral competencies has been conducted which will be key for the future state of the organization.
It is quite clear that the employees are well aware of the different soft skills that are needed for performing their jobs, ranging from accountability to team building, use of judgement to communications etc. It is strange to see responses which say that these skills are not applicable to them or are of low relevance, however for most behavioral competencies at least 75% of the employees felt that these skills are either of Medium or High relevance to them. The competencies identified are in fact all highly relevant for the employees specially those who take day to day operational decisions. The employees;
- should be held accountable and responsible for the decisions they take,
- should have the capability to analyse and interpret different cases,
- should have sound communication ability to send messages with clarity,
- should have the ability to motivate their direct reports,
- should have excellent interpersonal skills to understand what others are saying and get their point across
- should be enterprising and self-driven motivated to perform highly
- should have the ability to exercise judgment where required
- should be able to plan and organize themselves in a way that they are able to deliver efficiently
- should have excellent teaming ability to tackle tasks together with others
- should have an excellent understanding of latest technology and should be willing to change
the table shows that the bulk of the staff has Moderate competencies, at least one third in all cases. A lot of people i.e. another third rated themselves highly i.e. Fully Competent for most behavioral competencies. However measuring these competencies is not very easy and from the interaction with the participants in the six training sessions, the TNA and HRM experts noted that most of the staff lacked the soft skills needed for perform their jobs. Learning behaviors is a continuous process and it is ok for the majority to think they are not at Expert level as it is very hard to get to that position. Even the senior most members of most organizations have room for improvement when it comes to delivering soft skills. Based on the results of the analysis it is clear that training sessions need to be arranged focusing on:
- how to deal with different members of the society
- how to keep pace with the changes in technology
- how to organize time to ensure efficient delivery
- how to work as a team and motivate one and other
- how to use judgement in difficult situations
Each of the different thematic areas (thirteen in total) where evaluated for different sub-areas. This exercise focused on
- Identifying the relevance of training required for a particular sub thematic area,
- Followed by the level of training required i.e. basic, intermediate or advanced, and
- Finally, the prioritization of the training required i.e. how quickly should it be imparted.
The table below summarizes the priority areas that need to be addressed for the gaps to be closed. The top three sub areas for each theme have been identified.
Table 1: Training Prioritization in Technical Areas
|Technical Functional Areas||Training Prioritization|
|Environmental Impact Assessments||
|Multilateral Environmental Agreements||
|Environmental Regulation (Laws)||
Table 2: Training Prioritization in Support Services
|Support Functions||Training Prioritization|
Training / Learning Methods
As mentioned in the earlier sections the training should be a customized mix of;
- Classroom based learning from recognized institutions both foreign and local.
- On premise instructor led training, the trainers can be trained for this
- Web based learning
- Coaching i.e. assigning mentors in the organization for informal training
- On job training
Details are as follows:
- Instructor-Led Training - For creating an instructor led course at the premises of the department and associated agencies, external instructors will be required. The instructors / institutions providing the instructors will be required to submit materials to(Training Wing. These materials will include the course description, purpose, learning objectives and outline. Only approved trainings will be disseminated to the employees in the proposed training facility. This will be inclusive of presentations, demonstrations and exercises. In addition to the on premise training, the learning plans will also include recommended courses that are available at local and international universities. This will be classroom based learning from recognized institutions. Further on premise training can also be provided by selecting individuals and getting them trained to be trainers.
- Web based learning / virtual training – For this the training materials will need to be streamlined for proper upload on the systems. A system will need to be developed by the IETT which can be used by the EP&CCD, EPA and EMC. This will also include incorporating evaluation questions in the middle of the modules. This can be used for self-paced learning, where employees can complete trainings in their own time
- On-the-Job Training – It is recommended that emphasis is placed on job shadowing as a key element of knowledge transfer/knowledge acquisition. A mapping of the process areas/skills to be transitioned should be done, followed by shadowing with SMRs in a real time environment. Knowledge transfer will be delivered through interactions with supervisors, peers, and experienced employees. It will also include shadowing individuals to understand the intricacies and execution of work activities and reverse job shadowing to evaluate performance.
Training Evaluation Methods
Another key element of ensuring the success of trainings delivered is through a quality assurance process. To ensure quality of the training materials, the learning strategy and course designs should be reviewed by process owners. Additionally, training materials will go through a three-step review process:
- SMR / Technical Review – Provides an opportunity for subject matter experts to review small amounts of training materials on a regular basis. SMRs check for the accuracy of business process information and for technical accuracy. This will be carried out by the SMRs available at IETT.
- Operational Review – Core operational team members who execute work instructions will review all documentation to verify its accuracy, clarity, and compliance with document standards, establishing that it is in line with practices
- HR Review – This will ensure that all elements of the training are covered i.e. IT / system, process, culture and aptitudes in addition to the technical.
The three step process will ensure that the trainings that are developed are of top quality before they are rolled out.