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Fairtrade Foundation

Case Study: Fairtrade Foundation: Understanding staff development needs

Fairtrade International is a global movement working with small-scale farmers and workers across the world to secure fairer prices, better working conditions and sustainability.

Established in 1992, Fairtrade Foundation is the UK member of Fairtrade International. Their work includes raising awareness of its partners and projects, and certifying the use of the Fairtrade mark within the UK market.

The Challenge

As an organisation, the Foundation is keen to support staff’s learning and development needs and each year they ask every individual what these needs are as part of their annual appraisal. Early in 2015 the Foundation realised they could radically improve the process – and make their investment go further – by systematically analysing staff development requests. This would allow them to:

  • become more strategic in the development they offered
  • increase the impact of in-house training opportunities
  • reduce costs by minimising duplication in external training attended

=mc Brief

Fairtrade Foundation asked =mc to review and analyse all 89 completed annual appraisal forms in order to:

identify key trends in any development requested recommend both the formal and informal learning and development interventions that would have the most impact present back the findings to the Foundation’s HR & L&D functions – with guidance for next steps

What we did

Working confidentially with 89 staff appraisal forms we analysed the data presented against the key categories of learning needs agreed with Joti Chana, Head of HR. These categories included:

  • management development including line management and project management skills
  • personal effectiveness, such as time management and influencing
  • technical training for Fairtrade specific policies and products

As we analysed the data, we added additional categories as necessary to make sure we didn’t lose any individually expressed training needs that fell outside the original criteria. We then pivoted the results, to take a broader view and track the needs by:

  • Department
  • Managers and non-managers
  • Length of service

The resulting report looked at:

  • the type of training requested overall, and analysed by department, managers/non-managers, and length of service
  • specific training needs within each category
  • the range of other requests such as mentoring
  • training needs categorised by department, non managers and managers

Falling out from this we recommended both formal and informal learning and development interventions and a set of key actions – that included guidance on best practice for data management, the delivery of a two-tiered management development programme to cater for new and experienced managers and further support for mentoring across the organisation.


The analysis provided insight to Fairtrade Foundation’s training needs not just for individual staff but across departments and roles, allowing them to be strategic in their planning for learning and development in 2016.

Beyond the immediate analysis we saw an opportunity to create a sustainable process for Fairtrade Foundation which they could build on in future years, and created an editable template – complete with pivot table analysis – which they could continue to use going forward.

“Training needs analysis had always been an area of work that we struggled to invest the time and resource into. =mc were able to provide us with a framework – facilitating systematic analysis and provide valuable sector specific expertise that enabled them to draw insight from the data. =mc consultants have helped us to properly understand what people were telling us, and going forward I can be confident that the learning and development we provide reflects what our staff and organisation needs.”

Joti Chana, Head of HR, Fairtrade Foundation


Training needs analysis is a snapshot of an organisation’s development requirements at that time. However, with a robust process it can continue to work hard well beyond the ‘snapshot.’ For Fairtrade Foundation it has:

  • provided a set of benchmarking data for their future use and comparison
  • enabled them to respond more quickly to development needs identified in annual appraisals

Next steps

In 2016 we are continuing to work with Fairtrade Foundation to support the delivery of their learning and development programme.

How can we help?

If you’d like to discuss how =mc can help with your organisation’s learning and development needs, call Clare Segal, Director on +44(0)20 7978 1516 or email

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