Skill Audits for Library Leaders – Using Training Needs Analyses to find the skill gaps that can transform your library.

We all have skills and knowledge that can add value to our workplace. Even those with no experience in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) sector, will have transferrable skills that can be highly valuable to employers. However, we often don’t identify what skills we have, our employees have, or what skills the organisation needs its employees to have to deliver its goals, organisational strategy and organisational Mission and Vision.

By not having clarity on the skills available to us, through understanding the scope of skills available to the organisation through its employees, or without having a tailored training, education or learning strategy, we can fall into the trap of leaving it to chance. And as we know – luck is not a strategy! It certainly won’t get our library to where it needs to go – to be a high-performing 21st century library.

There are a number of questions as library leaders or library workers we need to ask if we are to have successful careers, or if we are to have successful organisations:

  • What skills do we and our employees have, and to what degree?
  • What skills are required to deliver on the library’s organisational strategy and goals?
  • Where are the gaps or deficiencies in our own skills, or in the skills of our employees?
  • Where are the organisation-wide deficiencies or gaps?
  • What can we do to close the gaps or address the deficiencies, to ensure we can achieve what we need to?

This is where a Training Needs Analysis (TNA), or a Skills Audit or Gap Analysis, comes into play. A TNA is a systematic process that identifies skills or competency gaps by isolating the difference in and between current and future skills or competency requirements. The purpose of undertaking such a process, is to improve employee job performance, and thus organisational outcomes. Importantly, undertaking a TNA removes assumptions out of the equation, which will only result in risk for the organisation. Delivering the wrong kind of training or intervention to solve a skills problem can be a very costly exercise. 

This is achieved by collecting both qualitative and quantitative data for analysis. Importantly, it is the process which integrates learning (through training, education or otherwise) with the business or development plans of an organisation. Within this link, we are running blind as to what education or learning requirements are necessary to achieve our organisational strategy.

Why do we need a Training Needs Analysis?

There are a number of reasons why a TNA could be required:

  • To identify the gap between current and required levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude;
  • It enables the organisation to utilise the existing workforce resources and skills effectively;
  • There may be performance issues;
  • There may be an introduction of a new system or processes
  • Automatic, irrelevant or habitual training e.g. any compliance-based training
  • To help meet compliance, self-insurance or other system requirements;
  • To manage requests for training and prioritise development needs, and to maximise the use of scarce resources;
  • To demonstrate evidence of capability to provide to financial or other stakeholders;
  • To meet audit requirements;
  • To support the implementation of the strategic and/or community plan;
  • To identify mandatory, common and priority development needs;
  • To manage significant change or opportunities;
  • To identify what the general content of training, education or learning activities should be;
  • To form the foundation of a Training Plan – the document which outlines how, when and where training will occur;
  • To provide a baseline for the evaluation of a training plan;
  • To ensure that the most appropriate and relevant training is delivered;
  • For individuals – to gain clarity on what professional development activities you can undertake to reach a certain level or role in your career. To create a personalised Training Plan!


Click here to access our Training Needs Analysis for free


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Doing the ground work before undertaking a TNA

Before we set out to undertake an organisation-wide TNA, lets first consider a number of things that need to be taken into consideration to ensure the best-possible outcomes.

Firstly, it is important that there is consensus and agreement amongst all the stakeholders and the executive team around the process and indeed the outcomes required by undertaking a Skills Audit of the organisation. Having everyone on the same page will make the execution of the process that much easier, and ensure that there is clarity and information around the process.

It is also critical, that prior to undertaking a TNA or indeed any other analysis, that work is done to ensure the setting up of a trusting environment or culture within the library. In order to have reliable and valid outcomes, staff need to feel ‘safe’ and confident in the knowledge that self-assessing themselves honestly, and identifying genuine skill, knowledge or aptitude gaps won’t be held against them. There needs to be an implicit trust between library staff and their managers and executive leadership group. 

The following is an excerpt from our e-book “Talent selection, development and retention for Library Leaders: The ultimate checklist to finding, developing and holding onto workers within your library!” (you can find the full e-book at our Knowledge Centre, located at

“It is of critical importance that library leaders create a culture of learning within their organisation. This is a culture that has a core value of commitment to lifelong learning, not only for customers, but also for staff. It creates an implicit understanding that we are learners first and foremost, and as such, are absolutely equal. Yes, we may have more skills, qualifications or experience than our colleagues or customers in particular areas, but we are equal in our identity as Lifelong Learners.

This reflects the founding principles on which libraries were built on. It also demonstrates an organisational commitment to ongoing learning, and in fact, makes it a requirement of ‘how things are done around here’ (which is actually just the culture of an organisation). It removes a sense of ego out of the equation, and helps in creating a culture of reciprocity in creating a learning environment, where we are all learners – at times educating and teaching, but in the process learning also.

Creating a culture of learning will help staff feel comfortable admitting potential skill deficits, and encourage them to take responsibility for their own professional development – in partnership with their employer. This is a reciprocal partnership that benefits from open discussions about ongoing upskilling. Starting a valuable conversation is key, but only if you create a safe environment where staff don’t feel threatened or intimidated to do so.” 

Without setting up the process effectively and without a culture of trust, employees will most likely self-assess themselves higher than they would otherwise. This just defeats the purpose of the exercise and effectively renders the results void.

For example, there are budget cuts, and staff fear that there may be redundancies. The Executive Leadership Team are trying to turn around inefficient and ineffective departments, and are looking to assess where there may be skill deficits. Whilst they may have good intentions behind what they wish to do, employees may perceive that demonstrating skill deficiencies may result in them becoming targets for redundancies. There is no way that the Executive Leadership Team are going to get valid and reliable results if significant work hasn’t been done before hand, and trust has been implicitly built into the process.

Another key component in setting up an environment conducive to achieving positive outcomes with a TNA is ensuring that staff and management are effectively consulted on the process, such that they are aware of why the TNA is being implemented, how the information will be used, and what outcomes can be expected. There should be no surprises. Capturing the views of different organisational stakeholders (e.g. the Executive Leadership Team, Managers, Employees, HR, L&D, and any other internal/external stakeholders), and setting the context of where the organisation is headed helps all stakeholders understand why the process is happening, what the focus is, and how to best approach it. This should help with engagement in the TNA process.  Conversations should be benefit-focussed.

Some questions to ask yourself and your management team when considering implementing a TNA include:

  • What are the objectives and targets for the TNA?
  • What resources are required to undertake a TNA process?
  • What are the current external factors affecting how the library operates? (for example, a PEST analysis, or Political, Economical, Social and Technological analysis)
  • How ill training impact on the productivity, competitiveness and long term sustainability of the library?
  • What level and type of training are staff currently participating in?
  • Who is the target participant group/s?
  • Which training programs or activities should be given priority?
  • What are the natures of the task?
  • What is the experience, language and literacy of the employees?
  • What hazards and identified risks will the TNA cover?
  • What risks will the TNA address?
  • How is it going to be managed?
  • How often will it be completed?
  • How does the TNA fit in with your performance management and development process?
  • Who do you need to consult and communicate with?
  • Is there a sense of urgency or a deadline?
  • What are the financial operational benefits associated with the project? (think indirect, as well as direct costs)
  • Do we have the skills to manage this process internally, or do we need an external expert in this area?

As with implementing any organisational changes, it is important to create a good business case for the changes. Some things to consider when creating a business case:

  • Demonstrate strategic alignment and a sense of urgency for the implementation of TNAs;
  • Define the scope of the proposed project;
  • Demonstrate the financial and operational benefits associated with the project;
  • Identify risks inherent to the project, and strategies for managing them.;
  • Identify and understand rejected alternative solutions;

A good business case or proposal should serve as the foundation for an implementation plan or roadmap.

What am I measuring?

Be clear as to whether you are measuring skills or competency, or capability. Capability includes skills and competencies, values and behaviours, key performance indicators and targets or on the job performance.

Training Needs Analysis methodologies

There are a number of different methodologies that you can use for a TNA:

  • A job skills profile, assessing strengths and development needs against a profile
  • Person analysis, profiling individuals with a yes/no rating system
  • Job analysis, triangulation by profiling three peoples’ skills in the same job role
  • Organisation analysis against a current framework or benchmark
  • Bottom up, that is, problem based or profiling against a (future) skills/competency framework
  • SWOT analysis, balanced scorecard or surveying.

To build job skills profiles, you will need to access up-to-date position descriptions and information on the job role.

Key steps in undertaking an effective TNA

Providing adequate information and addressing skills or knowledge gaps

Providing information, and addressing skills or knowledge gaps identified by the TNA may be provided through a number of different formats: 

  • Worker induction
  • Meetings (including information delivered the meeting minutes)
  • Reports (e.g. hazard inspection reports)
  • Training Needs Analysis and skills audits
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Buddy systems
  • Action Learning
  • Work shadowing
  • Seminars
  • Project-based learning
  • Scenario planning
  • Work based learning
  • Problem-based learning
  • Online learning
  • Mind mapping
  • Formal and informal training programs
  • Emails
  • Posters and signs
  • Newsletters or other circulars
  • Written procedures
  • Open learning online
  • Bulletin boards
  • Consultation or programs delivered by State/Territory regulator

It is important to note that the methodology used must be considered in context of what outcomes are required, what skills and knowledge are possessed by the trainer/supervisor/facilitator, and what skill and knowledge gaps are possessed by the learner. It is also important to consider their learning style, and the budget and resources available for delivery.

It is also important that you can identify and report that staff have in fact, read and understood the material that has been sent out, posted etc. Often requiring them to sign off the fact that they have read material can be used as evidence that they have read required documents or information.


Click here to access our Training Needs Analysis for free


Having a TNA completed for each staff member enables an organisation to create a training program that identifies the actual skills and competency needs of each individual. The TNA identifies potential gaps between actual competency and the level of competency required to achieve set objectives leading to better learning outcomes for each staff member and the organisation as a whole. Ideally, the TNA can be part of the performance review process, undertaken on an annual basis.

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