There are many benefits to a qualitative approach to Training Needs Analysis. Surveys relying on quantitative data, are not necessarily that useful for training needs analysis of ‘soft skills’ subjects such as bullying & harassment or equality, diversity and inclusion.
Instead of asking, for example, “How well would you say that you were able to handle inappropriate and/or discriminatory language in the workforce from colleagues?” and give a range of between very well and not at all”, we can get a much richer answer if we ask “If you overheard one of your team members use inappropriate language what action would you take?”. The problem then becomes; how do you analyse the immense number of different responses you get? Easy enough for a small team, but what if there are a thousand or more responses to analyse?
Likewise, if we have a number of focus groups, how do we ensure that we have captured the essence of the information, given the sheer volume of words in the responses?
Nelson Training were recently asked to conduct two training needs analyses: for a County Police Force and a County Fire & Rescue Service. Both wanted to establish the learning requirement across their Services for both knowledge of equality, diversity & inclusion and bullying and harassment and the skills to manage it.
In each case five focus groups were interviewed and a survey of some 25 closed questions which then required open question text responses to test the validity of the quantitative responses were carried out.
In order to capture in full the data from the focus groups, the groups were recorded and a transcript obtained using speech to text software. The major themes were then extracted from the transcripts using text analysis software. A quick word cloud of the most common terms starts the process. Looking at the most common terms bears looking at a word tree to see the context in which these words are used. Looking at each context brings up all the responses that use that context from which further queries may be made if necessary. Phrases within each context may be additionally coded so they can be compared with other contexts from the word tree. Thus, quantitative data may be derived from a large pool of qualitative text based responses.
Use of these techniques has enabled Nelson Training to carry out highly detailed training needs analysis that identifies, in much greater depth than normally possible, the knowledge and skills gaps that lead to a truly valuable training programme.