1. Introduction

Most businesses agree that having a skilled workforce is one of the keys to being successful.  By planning the skills needed to deliver your business goals and structuring the way training is provided your business will be able to adapt to whatever change is on the horizon.

The information in this section will help you to:

  • identify the skills your business needs and the gaps you have
  • know what planning your Skills Development involves
  • understand how to put in place the best training for your business and staff
  • consider how effective and useful the training is to your business

2. Benefits of developing the skills of your staff

Investing in the skills of your staff will help you to improve productivity, increase accuracy and offer a better quality of service, thereby improving customer satisfaction.  By creating an atmosphere of continuous improvement and innovation, you will be seen as an employer of choice - helping you to attract and retain the best staff.

Your reward will be:

  • a better response to changes in technology, processes and equipment
  • a more confident and agile workforce
  • higher levels of compliance to legal requirements including health and safety legislation
  • enhanced reputation among the workforce and community
  • better communication within the business and with customers, suppliers and others.

all of which should lead to ……..

  • increased profits

3. What does developing skills involve?


There are four key areas you should consider when deciding how best to develop and train your staff.

  • Identify skills development needs.
  • Plan and design appropriate training.
  • Implement training.
  • Evaluate training.

4. Identify Skills Development needs

A training needs analysis (TNA) is a way of figuring out where your business may have skills gaps.  Regular TNAs help you to keep on top of your changing skills needs as the business develops, such as:

  • Moving into new markets.
  • Introducing new technology or systems.
  • Developing new products.
  • Expansion.
  • Succession planning.

Skills development needs should be assessed at 3 levels:

  • Organisational level.
  • Departmental / team level.
  • Individual level.

Information on skills gaps can be obtained through:

  • Workforce planning.
  • Employee surveys.
  • Managers’ observations.
  • HR data such as accident records, sickness levels, turnover, numbers of grievances or disciplinaries.
  • Customer feedback and focus groups.
  • Company / team meetings and inspections.
  • Performance reviews and appraisals.
  • Employees input; they are more likely to experience the day-to-day problems that arise when there is a skills gap.
  • National Occupational Standards.

See our example templates of Training Needs Analysis here and Skills Survey here

Remember:  It is not just about developing skills.  Think about your employees’ knowledge, behaviour and attitude, all of which will have an important part to play in the success of your business.  Are there training or development needs in these areas?

5. Plan and design appropriate training

When deciding how to offer training to your employees, you should consider the following:

  • whether the training will be in-house, external or technology based
  • the costs and benefits of the training
  • the space and resources required if the training is done in-house
  • how much time is needed

Training can be very flexible.  People can learn at work or at home or on day release, online, on formal courses.  They can study for full or part qualifications or no qualifications at all.

Whichever method you choose, you need to ensure that all employees, including home-workers, part-time workers and disabled staff have equal access to the training they require to perform their job.

The first choice you will need to make is whether to choose in-house or external training and each option has a number of training methods that you can use.

See our Guide to Choosing your Training here

Remember:  Online courses are an effective way of providing learning to fit a person’s life in and outside of work. 

The Welsh Government’s Business Online Support Service (BOSS) offers a range of free online courses on topics including:

  • Building Successful Teams
  • Coping with Workplace Change
  • Coaching for Leaders
  • Decision Making
  • Effective Induction
  • Introduction to Project Management
  • Making Effective Presentations
  • Managing Absenteeism
  • Managing Your Time
  • Mentoring Others Effectively
  • Setting Objectives and Monitoring Performance

Registration is free and simple at https://businesswales.gov.wales/boss

A range of other on line resources are available to further explore flexible learning options. For example the Open University in Wales offers hundreds of free courses covering many subject areas that may be suitable to the vocational needs of your staff or their career development requirements.


Working Wales offers a variety of support options for developing skills and knowledge including a catalogue of on line learning resources.




6. Implement training

Whether you choose to train internally or to send employee on an external course here are some tips:

  • Tell people why they have been selected for training.  Is it to improve existing skills, develop new skills or for their future development?
  • Share the objectives of the training with them so that they know specifically what they should be learning.  Employees should be able to answer the question “What’s in it for me?”.
  • Give people enough notice prior to the training taking place.
  • De-brief employees on their return from training.  People usually want to share their new knowledge and talk about what they’ve learned.  Not providing this opportunity may affect their motivation and result in the training being a poor investment.

7. Evaluate training

An employer should monitor whether investing in the development of staff is delivering the results intended on business improvement and individual performance.  This will identify where investment is best placed and what changes may be needed to the plan and approach.  Think about the following:

a) Before attending training

Line managers should conduct a pre-course briefing with each participant.  This briefing is the place for each manager to introduce discussion about:

  • Why the employee has been selected for training (future development, mandatory requirement, improve skills).
  • What are the key things the training is going to cover.
  • How the principles, techniques and skills learned will be applied practically once the participant returns from the training event.

Line managers are also in the best position to ensure that participants have completed any pre-requisite reading or exercises.  Most important of all, the pre-course briefing sends a powerful message that your business cares about the employee's development and is serious about seeing the benefits of training.

b) During training

If the training is off-site at a college or training provider then ask to see copies of any evaluation forms completed by your employees.  If you decide to deliver training in-house, then make sure you get feedback on the quality of the training you provide.

c) After training

Transferring skills to the workplace at the conclusion of the training program begins with a post-course debriefing.  Continuing on from the pre-course briefing, ask line managers to review with the participants the content of the training and the participants' experiences.  The post-course debriefing is an ideal time to identify, plan and agree with the employee where the skills will be applied and to set specific goals for their application.  Two key suggested questions are:

  • What did you learn on the course?
  • How will you apply this at work?

Skills Information Hub