“The atmosphere was electric, the hall packed to capacity and the energy of the new graduates of the Class of 2018 could physically be felt when each one proudly stood to receive their certificates.”

This was the observation by one of the attendees of the Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA) graduation on Friday, 16 November in Stellenbosch after their year-long training programme.

A total of 49 students graduated this year with an industry-endorsed qualification. Additionally, 28 students who chose to write the WSET level 2 exam all passed – one with distinction and seven with merit, which is an exceptional achievement. To date since 2014, 211 students have graduated from the academy, 172 of them into the wine and tourism industry and the rest in the fruit sector.

PYDA offers a unique work readiness training programme for students looking to make a positive change in their lives, combining technical skills with personal development and practical training.  In a world where young people are despondent about their futures and some have little hope of getting an education or finding work post matric, this course effectively and uniquely shifts young people into a positive way of thinking and develops the inner self of each individual.  This gives them the space to develop into confident and mature young men and women that can boldly step into the workplace and be optimally productive from their first day of employment.  This is why PYDA’s mission is “Launching talent to be the difference”.

Well-known wine maker and facilitator at PYDA, Nomonde Kubheka was the keynote speaker at the graduation and encouraged the new graduates with her words of wisdom.  She challenged them to build bridges in difficult situations, to own their space wherever they go and to keep working on strengthening relationships in their personal and work environments.  She closed off with a powerful thought: “We live in a world that is tough. A world that tells us to be scared and build walls. But I want you to build bridges and communities.  Live outside of your comfort zones Class of 2018!”

This graduation is a family affair, where each student is joyfully cheered on by their family when they have their special moment on stage.  Nikki Munro, Executive Director of the Academy, captured special characteristics and impressions of each student during their training year, which shows the personal attention each student received.  Two of the proud parents were given the opportunity to share their experience with the audience. Monique Fredericks’s father Deon expressed his heartfelt appreciation on behalf of the parents.   He mentioned that he could see their kids become responsible citizens of South Africa and reminded them to never forget where they came from, meaning that they must be firmly rooted as they become the future of tomorrow. Mpho Bhele, parent of Dumisani Nyai, encouraged the graduates to grab all opportunities and to never stop looking for more education.

In her toast to her fellow classmates, Unathi Mzekile said she transformed by facing her reality. “I’ve seen a greater side of life and learned to forgive myself. The magic is within me.” This impressive young lady commanded the stage with confidence and the cheering audience into a humble silence when she received a standing ovation after her speech.

Desmond Hendricks, who achieved distinction in the WSET level 2 exam, encouraged his fellow students to step into the journey of their lives, as graduation is only a part of the bigger picture. – Press release