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Training and Assessing Workbook - Train the Trainer manual


Section 2: Identifying supported employees' training needs

2.1 Why do I need to identify the training needs of supported employees?

The training needs of supported employees need to be identified so the Disability Employment Service can meet its production targets and requirements. 'If we don't identify supported employees' training needs and develop their skills we are going to go out of business. Jobs are becoming more complex and unless we encourage variation in jobs the work will all go elsewhere. Skill development means variation in tasks is important as jobs become more complex. If someone is going to be a viable part of the workforce they will have to flex their capabilities' (Manager, Disability Employment Service).

Training supported employees to complete their work to the standards set by the Disability Employment Service is about business survival. Apart from effective production as a basis for training, there are other requirements for training based on legislation such as occupational health and safety. It is also about ensuring supported employees are working in a safe and healthy environment as well as helping them meet career and personal goals, thereby creating pathways and career opportunities.

2.2 How can I identify the training needs of supported employees?

Identifying the training needs of supported employees can sometimes be a simple process. At other times it will be much more involved and it may take some time to identify the training needs.

If a supported employee is not performing to the standard expected in a particular job, you need to analyse the job and skills required to determine whether training is required. You will need to identify what training would be best to close the gap between the existing skill levels and the skills to perform to the standard required.

There are a number of signals that training may be required, such as:

2.3 What is the link between employability skills and training?

While it is recognised that technical knowledge, ability and qualifications are required to complete many jobs in the workplace there is also an understanding that other skills are important for workplace success.

The Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST), the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Business Council of Australia (BCA) have developed a list of skills that relate employees' abilities to identify, access, network and communicate new information (employability) to their career success.

These employability skills are listed below.










Awareness of employability skills assists with the identification of training needs.

ACTIVITY : Identifying training needs in your workplace

What are the signals that supported employees in your work team may need training?

How are training needs identified in other parts of your workplace?

Who can you speak to about training needs in your workplace?


CASE STUDY : Engineering change

Walltork Industries is a light engineering factory producing metal ramps. The ramps sell to organisations fitting out premises for improved physical access.

The business had suffered a severe reduction in sales in recent months with some contracts not being renewed. A subsequent review indicated that five supervisors would have to be redeployed in other parts of the business. The review also found that many of the supported employees were capable of completing the work that had been undertaken by the supervisors. However, there was considerable resistance from some supervisors and the families of the supported employees claiming that supported employees were not able to undertake supervisory roles.

As the supervisor of the new group of supported employees you need to identify the team's capacity to complete the new tasks and the subsequent training needs.

What would you do first?

What are some of the questions you will need to have answered?

Effective training is based on current information about the ability of your organisation to meet its goals and the employees' ability to undertake the tasks to complete the work the business requires them to do. As a supervisor you need to answer questions, such as:

If you conduct a training needs analysis you will have information about the gap in your supported employees' skills and knowledge. This is essential information to help you determine the training needs of your team members.

CASE STUDY : Does Olivia need training ?

Olivia has been working in another area of the Bakewell Food Company for three years. She has excellent skills in packing but she wants a change. As the food preparation area is undergoing expansion the opportunity exists for her to transfer to your area. You are aware of her work but you don't know her personally. Her reputation is that she is a good team worker, follows excellent health and safety practices and likes to be around other people. Her tasks in your team will require her to measure the fruit and nut mixture for the cakes. Before she joins your team next week, you decide to find out a bit more about her so you can identify her training needs before she joins the new team.

What are some of the questions you would ask Olivia's current supervisor about her skills?

Who else should you talk to?

What other information might you need before Olivia joins the work team?

Some of the issues you might consider include:

Once you have this information you can start to make some decisions about the training Olivia will need. It will also help you if you know:

Point for thought ...

How should Olivia be involved in determining the training she may need?

If you have assessed that there is a gap between Olivia's current skills and those she needs for the work in your team, you can start to determine the training she will need. It may help if you write a list of the skills that need to be improved and prioritise them according to their importance in completing the work satisfactorily.

ACTIVITY : Identifying employability skills

Read the job description provided below. On the next page list the employability skills required for a team leader at Bakewell Food Company.

Job description

COMPANY Bakewell Food Company

TITLE Team Leader



As team leader you are responsible for the direct support and development of each member of your designated team of supported employees. This is to be achieved by direct supervision of all team members, communication with other team leaders and support staff as well as the monitoring of supported employees' goal achievement as documented in their appraisal. You are also responsible for addressing day-to-day performance and behavioural issues of members of your team using agreed strategies. Should members of your work team be temporarily transferred to duties with other work teams, you will remain responsible for their support through continuous communication with other team leaders.


  1. Train and develop the skills of supported employees in order to achieve the potential productivity of the team and its individual members.
  2. Coordinate and oversee the work of members of your work team in order to achieve expected production targets.
  3. Participate in the development of supported employee appraisals and goals.
  4. Facilitate and monitor the achievement of supported employee appraisal goals.
  5. Address individual and group performance and behavioural issues.
  6. Maintain production records and individual supported employee records as required.
  7. Act in accordance with and maintain an awareness of all company policies, Occupational Health and Safety requirements and Quality Assurance system requirements at all times.


  1. Achievement of production targets and quality specifications.
  2. The effective and efficient provision of support to supported employees as evidenced by maintenance and improvement of employees' skill and productivity levels and the attainment of their identified goals and objectives.
  3. The level of employee goal achievement within your work team.
  4. The incidence of performance and behavioural issues requiring in direct intervention.
  5. Minimisation of accidents and incidents.
  6. Participation in, and application of, personal development and training.


  1. Supervise employees in your work team, including temporary transfers in the production area, maintaining a continuous workflow with minimal downtime caused by disruptions.
  2. Conduct individual and group training and instruction to ensure that each employee's productivity and range/level of skills are maximised in accordance with their appraisal goals.
  3. Actively participate in the employee appraisal, goal setting and monitoring process.
  4. Actively participate in the development and application of specific strategies aimed at addressing individual and group employee performance and behavioural issues.
  5. Maintain direct communication with other team leaders in relation to team members temporarily re-assigned.
  6. Maintain awareness of, and apply all, occupational health and safety and quality management system requirements within the production area. Complete all reporting requirements as necessary and attend and participate in Occupational Health and Safety and quality improvement meetings as requested.
  7. Maintain awareness of, and apply all, company policies and procedures.
  8. Train employees to follow safe work practices in order to maintain a safe work environment.
  9. Report incidents/accidents as required.
  10. Maintain all documentation as required.
  11. Undertake or manage reporting and data collection duties as required.
  12. Work alongside supported employees in order to set a hands-on example and model appropriate work behaviour.
  13. Actively participate in staff development and training opportunities ensuring that skills are applied in the workplace.
  14. Undertake other reasonable work-related duties that are within the realms

What are the core competencies required for a team leader at Bakewell Food Company?

What are the core competencies for your current position – the skills needed for you to do your job to the measurable standards the business requires to meet its goals?

2.4 Are training needs usually easy to identify?

At times you may find it difficult to identify the real training needs for a supported employee.

A supported employee who has been performing well may become less competent for no apparent reason. It is important to gather information from a variety of sources in the workplace and perhaps the supported employee's family or carers.

There may have been a change in medication, the supported employee may be ill or there may have been physical changes in the work. Sometimes small changes in work processes can affect a supported employee's ability to perform a task.

CASE STUDY: Count to 10

Tom has been working in the ramp assembly section of Growth Industries since he left school at 16. He is now 42. He has been happy in his position as an assembly production assistant and rarely indicates he wants to change. In fact the whole ramp assembly crew has been together for six years. Naomi, the team supervisor, is retiring. She too has been at Growth Industries for many years and with Tom and the team for six years.

Following Naomi's retirement the management team at Growth Industries decides to review the ramp assembly line, looking for ways to improve quality and output. One of the output improvement measures put into place is to change the packaging from five ramps per pallet to eight ramps per pallet. The new team supervisor, Hei, talks to the team, explains and demonstrates the new procedure and starts up the production line. There is chaos. Initially he thinks it is because he has replaced Naomi and he hasn't been accepted by the team.

He soon realises the issue is more fundamental than that. Tom, who has always been responsible for counting the ramps onto the pallets, is making mistakes. It appears that once he gets past counting five ramps on the pallet he loses count.

2.5 Are supervisors always the best people to identify training needs?

Supervisors are the people who spend the most time working with, and observing, supported employees in the workplace therefore they are usually the best people to identify training needs. However, there will be situations where you will be unable to determine a supported employees' training needs and will need to seek advice from other people.

CASE STUDY: Changing lines

Kylie has asked to be moved to another area of work. She has been working successfully in applying sticky labels to small jars for 6 weeks and would like to try packing. Joseph, her supervisor in labelling, speaks highly of her ability to learn new tasks and her desire to get everything just right. Quality issues aren't a problem for Kylie.

When Kylie starts working in the 800 gram can packing line, Rob, the supervisor, notices that she is making a lot of mistakes. In the past hour he has seen her put 11 cans into a carton that should have had 12. She has been dropping cans, denting them and creating second-rate products. Kylie is becoming quite distressed, tells Rob that she always gets things right and that there must be something wrong with the cans.

Rob realises it would be difficult to assess Kylie's training need without speaking to people who know her well. He also decides to break the possible areas for training into four groups:

During another chat with Joseph, Rob reviews Kylie's training plan and can't find anything to indicate she would have a problem adapting to the new work.

He observes Kylie more closely. She appears to get on well with the other team members, has no difficulty counting the product or recognising quality issues but she does appear to be very clumsy and drops many cans. Rob realises that training needs to be related to Kylie's physical ability to handle the larger cans. He needs to speak to one of the workplace specialists about this.

2.6 Can training needs be identified for future work?

There are several reasons why a Disability Employment Service would need to identify future training needs. At an organisational level the service may be commencing new work or purchasing new equipment and at an individual employee level, there is an ongoing responsibility to maintain and develop each supported employee's capacity.

As a supervisor, you have a role to manage the performance of supported employees. This role includes assessing existing as well as future training needs.

CASE STUDY: Dominic's dilemma

Dominic is the supervisor of a team of five supported employees in a business producing wooden garden furniture. He knows his team well and they have been working together well for a number of years. Over the past year the business has built a human resource management database that identifies the skills, knowledge and abilities of all supported employees. Dominic has been using the information and is confident his workplace training is meeting the mark.

During a recent staff meeting, the manager of production informed Dominic that the Board had approved the purchase of new precision-cutting equipment that will help increase output and reduce wastage. The equipment has been ordered and Dominic has been scheduled to undertake some training to familiarise him with the new requirements. He has also been asked to work out the training the work team will need.

What information does Dominic need to make some good decisions about training his work team?

If you were Dominic, what would be your first steps in deciding the training needs for your supported employees?

Who should Dominic talk to? Where can he get additional information he may need?

Dominic needs to know:

He will then be able to draft a training plan for the team and for individual team members. It can be a summary of the aims and objectives of the training and a step-by-step guide to how the objectives will be met. The start could look something like this.

Training program for the introduction of new precision saw equipment

Aim: To introduce new precision saw equipment to the supported employee work team in the furniture production area.

Objectives: By the end of the training program the team members will be able to competently operate the equipment without injury, with increased output and reduced wastage.

Next, a series of realistic and achievable goals needs to be set for meeting the objectives. It is unlikely that the objectives could be met in one training session as we all perform better when we have the opportunity to gather information, practise skills or think about it and check we have it right. This training plan for the introduction of the new equipment will probably extend over a period of time. It will gradually build the skills and knowledge, checking progress and reinforcing good practices. The plan will have a number of sessions that will build like a jigsaw puzzle to a complete picture of a competent team member. This is described in the diagram below with the jigsaw puzzle pieces including attitude to work, motor skills, underpinning knowledge and workplace behaviour.

This diagram describes the jigsaw puzzle pieces including attitude to work, motor skills, underpinning knowledge and workplace behaviour.

2.7 Should there be a training plan for each supported employee?

Training plans can be useful for tracking progress toward satisfying an identified skill, knowledge or behaviour gap. They can also help you see patterns in abilities to complete different tasks. You may find that there is more than one training need identified, some that can be addressed immediately and others that will require training over a more extended period of time.

The need to write a training plan for a team or individual will be a workplace decision. Even if your workplace does not require you to document training you may find it useful to have a planned approach to the training your team members are undertaking.

A notebook or exercise book might be all you need. Make some time each day, or after each training session to note how much individual training a person is receiving. Keeping a training notebook or logbook can help your business meet its legislative and registration requirements.

ACTIVITY : Training plans

Talk to the human resources manager or business service manager about what your business might like to see in a training plan.

An example of a layout for a training plan is provided in the Train the Trainer toolkit (refer page 16 of the toolkit).

Training plans do not need to be complicated, but simple and to the point. A training plan should guide you through the steps to providing the supported employees with the learning experiences to equip them to do their work well. A good place to start is to answer some of the following questions.

Training plans can be for individuals, for teams and for businesses. It is important that they all combine to make a complete picture. The training plans for the individual link to the team's plan and the team's plans links to the whole business plan in a complementary manner. This link between the individual's and team's training plan to the business plan is illustrated in the diagram below.

This diagram shows the link between the individual's and team's training plan to the business plan

An individual's training plan should pay attention to the person's preferred ways of learning and use these to advantage. Similarly, if there are work methods in your work teams that are particularly successful or team members who work well together, consider them when you put the training plan together.


An essential base for any effective workplace training is a training needs analysis. As a workplace trainer you need to have the skills and abilities to analyse the gap between current task performance and required task performance. At times this will be a relatively simple procedure. At other times it will be challenging and time-consuming.

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