Students from the Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA) joined with friends, family and past graduates on Friday 17 May, to celebrate their graduation from the academy’s twelve-month Fruit Sector Programme.  The ceremony was, as ever, a joyful and meaningful celebration marking their success in completing what was a tough and challenging year. 

The academy has graduated 235 work-ready young men and women since its inception in 2013. It continues to do so with two classes of wine and tourism students currently in the programme. A new class of 25 students will start their journey in the Tourism Sector Programme in September 2019. The academy has yielded exceptional results, including student retention levels of over 90% during the programme and over 90% of graduates employed within six months of graduation.

PYDA offers a unique programme that combines personal development with industry-specific vocational skills and practical work experience. The group of 24 talented young people are now ready to launch their careers in any number of roles in the fruit value chain. Possibilities include processing, quality assurance, orchard management, marketing, logistics and export. 

The SA economic engine

As a guest speaker, Beverly Schäfer, Minister of Agriculture, Economic Development and Tourism for the Western Cape, congratulated the graduates on their achievements. Her message to them was clear: “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, Cape Talk 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 their feet firmly on the ground and their heads in the sky.

Celebrating the future influencers of change

Bukelwa Panduva’s son, Aphendule, is a part of the graduating class and Bukelwa’s address to the group was poignant and heartwarming. 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. 

As is customary, 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. “ – Press release

Bukelwa Panduve, mother of graduate Aphendule, addresses the graduating class of 2019 on behalf of the parent group.