Students from the Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA) joined with friends, family and past graduates on Friday May 17, to celebrate their graduation from the academy’s twelve month fruit sector programme.
The academy has graduated 235 work-ready young men and women since its inception in 2013 and continues to do so with two classes of wine and tourism students currently in the programme, and a new class of 25 students starting the Tourism Sector programme in September.
The academy’s results include student retention levels of over 90% during the programme, and over 90% of graduates employed within six months of graduation.
PYDA offers a programme that combines personal development with industry-specific vocational skills and practical work experience. The 24 young people are ready to launch their careers in any number of roles in the fruit value chain, including processing, quality assurance, orchard management, marketing, logistics and export.
As a guest speaker, Beverly Schafer, MEC for Agriculture, Economic Development and Tourism for the Western Cape, congratulated the graduates on their achievements. Her message to them was: “Agriculture is an important economic engine for South Africa. You are the future of that industry.”
She also spoke about her belief that partnerships are essential to bring change in the province.
Africa Melane, CapeTalk presenter and author, spoke about his journey and encouraged graduates to be grateful for the opportunity they’ve had but not to be limited by it. He encouraged them “to keep your feet firmly on the ground and your heads in the sky”.
Bukelwa Panduva’s son, Aphendule, is a part of the graduating class and in Bukelwa’s address to the group her message was that PYDA should continue its work with other young people, and to the graduates: “Now you must continue; you make us so proud.”
Chirene Jelbert of C-Fruit, a partner and employer, spoke about how the PYDA students created jobs for themselves through their in-programme work placement.
She said: “We had no choice but to employ them because they made such a huge difference to the business.”
Graduation certificates were handed out by Sinesipho Dimaza who graduated from the academy’s fruit sector programme in 2018. She was joined by Zukani Metshane, programme delivery co-ordinator for the academy’s fruit class, who sent the class off with a tribute.
Each student was recognised individually by PYDA’s executive director, Nikki Munro, who said: “PYDA provides a platform for talented young South Africans to differentiate themselves in the workplace. Our unique approach results in young professionals that can grow fast in their respective careers while being the influencers of change this country needs.”