Following the sale of Parity Training to Xpertise falling though, the organisation has returned to the Parity fold with a new managing director Allan Pettman. He spoke to Helen Wilcox about what this means for Parity Training and its plans to add 'extra spice' by linking courses to organisations' objectives.

Parity Training was set to be bought by Xpertise in the summer when QA-IQ suddenly swooped in and took off with Xpertise, leaving Parity Training as part of the Parity Group.

'When the sale fell through, people were surprised how it turned out, and the suddenness of all the transactions,' said Allan Pettman who was recent promoted to MD of Parity Training from the role of sales and marketing director. 'Parity is very much a family organisation, and the feedback from our customers and staff is that they are in fact happy that the training division has remained where it is.'

Is another buyer likely to step forward? 'We are a plc, and if anyone puts an offer in for any line of business we have to look at the offer,' said Pettman. 'We have an obligation to do so. There is every chance that offers will come in. In any climate, people will always speculate. Parity would be attractive. As we speak [early December], there is nothing worthy of discussion. We are working on the basis that we are being brought back into the [Parity] group.'

Pettman is working on some new plans for Parity Training: 'We are going to stay true to our three core areas: project and programme management, service management and business systems development. We will supplement the portfolio of standard delivery interventions with a peppering of practical courses and courses linked to organisations being able to be improve skills in the professional environment.'

Pettman believes that the days of off-the-shelf training are waning, and that Parity should be offering its customers some 'additional' spice, and make sure individuals' skills are relevant to an organisation's policy.

'Having the right people will be more important than ever next year,' he said. 'When there is not a significant amount of people movement, good people will move if not treated properly.'

Parity Training therefore plans to offer its customer a more consultative approach - on two fronts: making sure that courses link to organisational objectives, and that individuals have the right skills. From an organisational perspective, it will seek to help plan and direct training to fit in with objectives. For example it may advise if version 2 or version 3 of ITIL® is the most suitable for an organisation to implement. It can then help make sure L&D organisations benefit from implementation, the delivery phase, and monitoring and evaluation.

In practice, this could mean, for example, that the first day of a two-day workshop would cover the theory of the discipline, the dos and don'ts and pitfalls. The second day would be about where the organisation is now, where it wants to be, pitfalls and benefits, and who the major stakeholders are.

The second strand is focused at individuals - whether they are the right people and if they have the skills to be successful. There are three types of skills to consider, according to Pettman - core, method and framework, and 'softer' skills.

To help identify the right skills for individuals, Parity is revamping its schedule so that it no longer simply lists course titles on the schedule. Instead, its portfolio will be linked to competency frameworks in terms of demonstrating levels, and Parity will show how its courses map onto certain frameworks, such as ITG and SFIA.

What else is on the cards for next year? Pettman will be recruiting a new sales director to take on his previous role, and the company will be looking to develop courses in the area of governance, which he tips as a growth area.

As for the economic outlook? 'We're predicting the flat side of gloomy,' he said. 'But I don't think anyone's crystal ball is working at the moment.'