The achievement of PYDA in launching young talent for the past 10 years was marked and celebrated at a showcase event at Quoin Rock on 14 September. Funders, partners, coaches, facilitators and a representative group of graduates came together to celebrate this significant milestone, to look back on so many notable achievements and to look ahead to future impact and success.
PYDA exists to work with young, talented and high potential South Africans for irrevocable personal change and meaningful economic outcomes. Based on 2 campuses in the Stellenbosch area, it develops talented 18 – 25 year old’s from under resourced areas for employment and other economic opportunities. The Academy’s work is founded on innovative programmes which combine personal development skills (35%) with industry-specific vocational training (40%) and practical work experience (25%). The Academy started its work in the wine sector and has now also successfully implemented customised programmes in other demand led sectors including Digital Skills, FMCG and Fruit.
Proceedings were opened and everyone welcomed to the event by Nomonde Kubheka, who has been involved from the start. As a wine maker and wine trainer, she is a PYDA Champion and a model of leadership. She introduced Wandile Bereng, PYDA Board Chair, who recognised the achievements of PYDA with specific acknowledgement to the team and to the Board, whose contributions have been so vital from the beginning, as well as through the recent challenges of Covid years.
More than 500 passionate, talented young people have graduated from the PYDA over the last 10 years, and over 90% of them have jobs. Indirect impact is measured at 5 relationships per graduate, bringing community and country impact to over 2500 people. Employment levels in sectors we work within, particularly the wine sector, tangibly demonstrate the immediacy of graduates entering and growing within demand led sectors.
PYDA graduates are a new generation of young professionals who have a big picture view, grow fast in their careers and are making a difference in their communities. Over 90% of graduates have said the most valuable thing they gained from the Academy was personal development leading to emotional intelligence and agency – young people owning their voice, their uniqueness, and their limitless power and possibility. This is epitomized when you engage with past Academy students, whose stories PYDA graduate and now Youth Mentor Siphesihle Mfobo shared on behalf of the group. She spoke about being “chosen” to be at the Academy through its stringent recruitment process, how she has developed skills to access employment and is now able to provide for her family. She also spoke about how she shows what is possible for young Black people. “I now make an impact also to young Black people… giving them the drive, giving them hope, giving them faith.”
"There are millions of young South Africans who need one opportunity to change the world , says PYDA Executive Director Nikki Munro.
As we celebrate 10 years, PYDA has expanded into more commercial projects as well as a formal Innovation stream. This work is driven by an extremely challenging economic context that has systemically disadvantaged generations of South Africans and intends to deliver difference through the creation of youth led economies. Nikki Munro said "We are expanding, we are shifting. We are a change organization focusing now on both individual and systemic change. Unemployment in the 18-to-25-year group is quoted as 75% and the system remains stacked against those from previously under-resourced areas. Our hope is for a connected society where all have the opportunity to become who they want to be with tangible economic outcomes.”
As we look forward, it is important to mark how it began. David Best, first PYDA Chair, spoke of the start of the Academy. It was founded in 2012, after he and Jilly (Best) visited Franschhoek and connected with an enthusiastic young man at Rickety Bridge Winery at a tasting. The young man was Fennel Adams and after further engagement, they realized that there must be a way to fast track education and training so that people with his kind of drive and attitude would have access to opportunities for training and employment. After an engagement with UK based Dame Hilary Cropper Foundation (est. 2004) where David and Jilly were Trustees, the Foundation began and has continued to fund and support the PYDA over the 10 years since inception and has every intention to continue to do so, according to Nick Jackson, current DHCF Chairman who spoke on their behalf. He recognized the impact of the Academy’s work both from a practical perspective from the graduate employment statistics, and from the individual growth that the students gain from the personal development aspects of the programmes.
The Academy is a not-for-profit company fully funded and supported through many different partnerships. Part of the evening was to recognize and appreciate those who have worked with the Academy to make it all happen. Many partners attended and enjoyed the in-person connections and it was meaningful to have Fennel Adams at the event as we looked back through the past ten years. We continue to encourage involvement from all who want to actively work to bring change to South Africa. In closing Nikki said, “ It is my wish for us all that you can see what is possible through young people and that together we can build hope, connection and tangible outcomes for all in our amazing country”.