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Synergy Ergonomics

People In Complex Systems
Synergy Consultants Ltd
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Training Needs Analysis
The human resource is an essential component of a successful organization. Effective training ensures that members of staff are able to work effectively in meeting the organization’s goals, including controlling and maintaining complex systems. Training Needs Analysis (TNA) provides the basis for establishing an effective system of training. Proper TNA should be part of dealing with any innovation concerning how work is carried out, including the development of new systems, changes in technology, working standards and practices.
TNA is a term that has been adopted to cover a wide range of aspects of training development. It can be used to:

  • Establish the human responsibilities in operating and maintaining a system;
  • Identify different roles and responsibilities of members of operating teams, including supervisory responsibilities;
  • Identify number of staff required to be trained at each level or job;
  • Identify training and assessment methods for respective tasks, methods for developing competency at overall jobs, and methods to integrate the activities of teams;
  • Identify and support the procurement and use of training materials and equipment, including training simulators and computer based training;
  • Support the design and development of training simulators, including: facilities for augmenting the task to facilitate learning; for team skills and interactions to be practised; for instructors to monitor progress and exercise control over the progression of training; and for assessments to be made of the trainees’ competence;
  • Develop the content of training programmes through the use of task analysis, including operational skills required, background technical and systems knowledge required, and social and other personal attributes that need to be developed;
  • Integrate overall training programmes to incorporate training methods, content and training technology, including team training;
  • Identify and support appropriate instructional and training management roles;
  • Identify and support on-going personnel development needs, including requirements to maintain infrequently used skills and prepare personnel for ‘acting up’ and for promotion;
  • Identify training specifications as an input to personnel recruitment programmes.

However, whilst the TNA process should consider all those training issues in the above list that are considered important to an organization or a particular application, TNA is often based upon a prescribed investigative framework, that may not necessarily meet an organizations needs in all cases. Therefore, at the outset of any TNA, the analyst must make some assessment as to whether the TNA approach that is to be used fully meets the organization’s requirements, or whether the chosen approach requires some modification.

A full TNA includes reviewing the context of training: what tasks should be trained; what is critical in performance; what aspects or prone to error; who requires training in the company; how people’s tasks relate to each other; what resources are available for training; how should people be assessed, accredited or licensed; what methods should be adopted in providing training and assessment; and what responsibilities and duties should be imposed on management and supervision in order to support the training system.

Ideally, TNA is best started as early as possible. One reason is that things that are assumed to need training might better be dealt with by some other method – better team organization; workplace design; operating instructions and job-aiding; or even personnel selection. Another reason is that training resources and facilities are best anticipated early on to ensure that proper attention is paid to training analysis and design, and the development of training resources (including simulators, where appropriate). In this way, training development will be most economical, appropriate to requirements and will foster proper commitment by management to training.

TNA is, of course, closely linked to the detailed analysis, design and development of training –issues which should, ideally be considered along with TNA. Analysis, design and development will entail engaging with managers and company trainers in task analysis, selecting appropriate training methods and training resources and setting up systems of assessing and recording training given and staff competencies. It is also closely linked to human resource systems in organizations, including specification of job-descriptions, job specification, appraisals and staff development issues.

It is also important to stress that any TNA, but most especially one for a system that is at the design stage, must be undertaken with a full appreciation of the wider human factors issues. In particular, this means that if a TNA identifies that a task will be difficult to train, it may prove more effective to modify the task in a way that reduces the training burden, for example by modifying the interfaces, producing clearer operating procedures, or providing job aids.

Synergy has:

  • Undertaken TNAs using a range of established TNA frameworks;
  • Analysed training requirements and assessment methods for supervisory and managerial staff at major stations;
  • Developed a systematic framework for evaluating training requirements and for determining training resource requirements;
  • Identified training needs for an underground railway system.