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Roy Newey: Promoting Skills and Employment

English-born entrepreneur, Roy Newey has worked for more than 30 years in over 80 countries to promote skills - driven by the belief that every human being has a right to the indelible sense of self-worth that only work enables.
BY Rajyasri Rao |   11-02-2013

Newey’s passion is rooted in his own personal story.

“I remember coming home one morning when I was 16 and finding my father sitting in his overalls reading the papers,” he says. “I found out that day that he had got laid off from the company that he had worked for all his life, but was too ashamed to tell us and had gone on getting up and getting ready to go to work as though nothing had happened.”

Newey says the pain that he saw on his father’s face that day stayed with him and has inspired him to equip anyone willing to work, to learn new skills and ‘grab on to the dignity of work.’

His own career reflects an eclectic mix of fields and competencies and underlines his belief that no skill is worthless and that an openness to try new things, staying the course and hard work, deliver success.

One of Newey’s first ventures in the early 80s involved setting up and running ‘What’s Cooking?’ a restaurant, florist, butcher, bakery and coffee shop business in Liverpool, in the U.K., which went on to win several awards.

“The key thing at a restaurant is that you have to be able to smile, create a sense of humour and motivate staff,” he says. “It teaches you a whole range of soft skills and it’s a great industry for young people.”

Since then, Newey has worked with training companies, enterprise councils, national and international trade bodies, skills providers, the U.K. government and governments around the world as a consultant, thought leader and expert on skills and employment.

Having first landed in India in 2006, Newey has travelled to the country at least twice a month since then, saying he is passionate about the role skills can play in helping India tackle poverty.

In 2009, he led the inception of the U.K. India Skills Forum and brought together more than 700 U.K. skills organisations wanting to trade and participate in the India Skills Mission - which aims to provide vocational training to 500 million people by 2022.

Currently, only about five percent of Indians aged 19-24 formally learn a trade. Newey says the Forum simplifies accessibility of UK skills providers to interested Indian businesses looking to provide large-scale skills projects to help meet the 2022 target.

Newey took part in a panel discussion on the subject at the One Globe 2013: Uniting Knowledge Communities conference, titled ‘Can India Skill 500 million people by 2022?’

“I try to focus on the vocational side,” he says. “India needs 5 million new drivers a year – so we hitched up with drivers; India needs electricians so we hitched up with electrical training companies; in keeping with a focus in India’s forthcoming 12th five-year plan, we have a big initiative on primary health care coming up.”

Newey is also Pitman Training India’s new director. Known for its courses in shorthand, he says Pitman India will be looking to create a niche for itself in offering office management skills.

“I couldn’t be more pleased in being in the field I am,” Newey says. “What inspires me each time is the transformation you witness when you take somebody who has just lost their job, lost belief in themselves and you give them a skill and they suddenly realise they can do something and be valued and recognised for it.”

“Nothing beats that,” he says.

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