Training Needs Analysis implementation: dilemmas and paradoxes (Part 6)

The phenomenon of ‘training specialist’ seems to be particularly relevant in Indonesia, but it may also be relevant in other ASEAN nation states. Whilst the actual purpose of a TNA is to link training requirements to organizational need, with ‘training specialists’ subverting this process, it was understandable why this respondent implied that it is a waste of time. The need to conduct a training needs assessment indeed might be the first priority for government organisations, but these key questions remain: (i) WHO conducts the TNA? and (ii) for WHAT purpose is the TNA conducted?

In the Indonesian context, there are often different organizational arms conducting the TNA, and the results of a TNA might be influenced by the organizational arm involved. In Looking for a Way Out, (Fairman, 2017) comments that the Director of the Training Unit in the Ministry of Home Affairs illustrated the importance of conducting training needs assessments before planning training. However, it was noted that the Planning Division, not the Training Centre, defined the TNA. To further indicate the complexity of this system, the Director of the Training Centre indicated that they annually examine regional training needs, and on the basis of these organizational needs the ‘training gap’ is filled. As a consequence of this situation, the Planning Division does not carry out these tasks, and by implication misses the opportunity to ‘plan’ according to observed organizational needs and the employees’ skill levels.

Our contention in this paper is that a TNA should be an organizational training tool related to a subsequent mapping exercise. Thus, with their use, the Training Centres, through regular training needs assessments, will then be better placed to determine their organization’s needs. The TNA may measure the ‘individual’ employee’s skill levels, but it does not necessarily reflect the ‘organisations’ planned and desired strategic direction. It is when the two coalesce, bringing together the organizational plans with individual training requirements, that we can see hope for the success of TNAs. In Looking for a way out (Fairman, 2017) suggested that there are many stories of ‘international’ experience being the determining factor in the cooperation agreement, which is illustrated by this senior government respondent: 

At the beginning level, thanks to the donor AusAID, they helped us to make the TNA, make a training plan and integrate a training plan, and then we see the donor country’s offer to us, in order to give an opportunity to send our staff to go to the universities.  Still under the donor, it’s not demand driven, it’s like supply-driven from the donor. (Senior Government Official) (Fairman, 2007).

TNAs were, according to this respondent, a disguise used to hide the actual ‘partner contributions’ in the relationship. The foreign bodies were always going to promote their own ‘perspectives’ of how to resolve their human resource requirements, and relate ‘scholarship’ to their own donor country.


One manifestation of difficulties around workforce development is unemployment in the general ‘educated’ sector, and according to The Jakarta Post:

…currently the open unemployment rate is 6.82 million people. SMK (Higher Vocational School) leavers contribute 8.63% of that total to equal 588,000 SMK graduates…’ [1]

It is now recognized that University graduates cannot find relevant work due to their lack of focused skills required by industries. In the workplace, such as a bank, other state-owned or private organizations, or many public institutions, have thus wasted time, money and other resources in conducting training programs which have nothing to do with improving competency in order to bridge the organization performance gap.

There are some important common threads which have emerged from each of the TNA case study examples, and which need to be addressed if TNA practice is to be more carefully shaped to local requirements. These commonalities included:

  • Organisational plans were not matched to human resource development needs;
  • There were limited connections between TNA outcomes and future training interventions;
  • The purpose of carrying out the TNAs can be slightly different for specific circumstances. These purposes can include (i) government or organisational requirements, (ii) evidential justifications for training interventions, and (iii) requirements for ongoing support directed at either internal or external funding sources.

It is clear from the descriptions above, that the purpose and conduct of the various TNAs within each case study are essentially different. It is important that the conduct of the TNAs is approached from an unbiased perspective carried out to meet the training requirements of an organisational rather than meeting an individual’s training expectations or requirements. Whilst this comment is not directed particularly at an Indonesian context, we note that similar problems with TNAs conducted internationally can evidence similar outcomes unless care is taken with the analysis process. If this care is not taken, TNAs risk becoming mere formalities in a ‘self-justifying’ system.

[1] Source: The Jakarta Post, Tuesday May 7th, 2019.  Website accessed 09/09/2019


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