Risk-Based Training Needs Analysis (RBTNA)

Risk-Based Training Needs Analysis (RBTNA)


Training is critical to effective human performance, both in preparing people to perform a role, and in maintaining competence.  While training is critical to effective performance, it also represents a substantial cost to organisations, therefore valuable training time must be spent on the most important training priorities.   Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is a process which allows us to determine and prioritise training needs.  TNAs can improve organisational outcomes by making the training process more efficient and effective, and when a TNA is risk-based, it ensures that training focuses on addressing relevant human performance-related risks.

What is an RBNTA?

Risk based training needs analysis (RBTNA) is a structured process that identifies training needs by understanding the tasks performed within a role, the systems or tools used in performing the tasks, and the context in which the role is performed.  It helps to prioritise training needs according to the risks associated with human performance, as well as the characteristics of the tasks (difficult, importance and frequency of task performance). 

An RBTNA aims to:

  • identify the functions and tasks involved in the role
  • identify the tools and systems used in performing the role
  • understand the context in which the tasks are performed
  • identify the training needs (knowledge and skills required) to perform the tasks
  • prioritise the training needs for the role

The RBTNA uses a range of information sources to inform the analysis, and may use methods such as documentation review, interviews with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), workshops, and observations of actual performance.  The RBTNA process can be broadly described as follows:

  • Conduct a task analysis for the role, breaking the role into tasks and subtasks, and understanding the context in which the tasks are performed.
  • Conduct a risk analysis for each main role function or task, by determining the risk associated with poor performance in completing that task. We tailor the RBTNA to use the organisation’s risk matrix and safety data (where available).  The risk analysis ensures that higher training priority is placed on tasks that represent a higher risk if performed incorrectly. 
  • Conduct a DIF analysis of core functions or tasks. A DIF analysis provides an overall score to help prioritise training needs, according to:
    1. Difficulty in learning or performing the task
    2. Importance of the task (for safety / operational outcomes)
    3. Frequency with which the task occurs in normal operations

This ensures that a greater focus is placed on tasks that are more difficult to learn/perform, those that are more important (to safety or operational outcomes), and those that are performed less frequently.  Tasks that are performed less frequently in normal operations are practised less, and therefore underpinning knowledge/skills are more likely to fade. 

  • Determine knowledge and skills (both technical and non-technical) required to complete the listed tasks.
  • Map training needs to relevant regulatory requirements, competencies, or Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) units.
  • For existing roles, the RBTNA may also identify tasks that are already sufficiently trained, and identify areas requiring additional focus (gap analysis).
  • In addition to the analysis, recommendations for training (and evaluation of outcomes of training), can be provided. The context in which the task takes place, and the type of training need, will inform which modes we recommend for training. For example, high fidelity (e.g. simulator) training modes are useful for safety-critical high-risk tasks, particularly those involving practical skills, whereas low fidelity training (e.g. classroom seminar or computer-based training) is appropriate for training general knowledge, and/or for simple procedural tasks associated with lower risk.

The RBTNA is summarised in a report, highlighting training priorities and important findings.  The full RBTNA raw data is also provided to assist training developers and instructional designers in creating or updating training packages. 

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