Ask people what PYDA stands for and they will say hope. The Academy’s flagship programmes have earned a reputation in the Western Cape and beyond as offering a ground-breaking approach to youth development. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, it will have seen over 550 young people graduate from its programmes and go on to find meaningful work since its inception.
The inspiration for the Academy came in 2010 from a chance meeting with Fennel Adams, a young man working in a winery tasting room. He had ambition, drive and talent and the good fortune to have met the sales manager who offered him the chance to develop his wine knowledge by learning on-the-job. But for so many other young South Africans, there was no opportunity beyond school to learn or find employment. The meeting with Fennel sparked an idea that captured the imagination of PYDA’s founders.
The UK based Dame Hilary Cropper Foundation had been supporting disadvantaged youth in South Africa since 2003 with the aim of providing educational and social support for those with limited or no prospects. The gem of an idea in meeting Fennel led to two years of detailed research and planning by the Foundation, supported by an Advisory Board made up of representatives of local employers, industry, educators and young people themselves. It focused on one of the sectors critical to the Western Cape economy that offered employment potential, namely the wine industry, and identified gaps in existing training provision. It emerged that the magic ingredient employers were looking for was teaching that combined technical skills with all-important personal development. The Academy’s graduates would complete their 12-month studies not only with practical knowledge and on-the-job experience, but critically with a clear understanding of who they were, how they could contribute and how they could achieve their own unique potential through the world of work.
Under the inspirational leadership of Executive Director, Nikki Munro, the Academy opened its doors for a pilot programme ten years ago. From the first intake of 24 students, 100% achieved employment within a short period of graduating and the wine industry began to look at PYDA as a source of well trained, well rounded and valuable employees. Since then, programmes have evolved beyond wine to encompass fruit, hospitality and tourism. And faced with the challenges of the recent global pandemic, the creativity of Nikki and her team saw remote learning and short programmes introduced to continue and even expand the Academy’s portfolio of long and short programmes to include IT, FMCG and youth employability.
PYDA’s success is down to the many heroes, both recognized and unsung, who have given their support from the start and even before, when the idea was just that. As the African saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. From the early days of the Advisory Board generously donating their time and expertise, right through to the staff, volunteers, tutors, mentors, Board members, graduates – and of course funders – it takes many people to take a dream and transform it into a living, breathing success. Every single individual who has touched the Academy has played their part in making it what it is today, for which immense thanks.
Congratulations to PYDA - we raise a glass to the next ten years and beyond and to launching even more talent to be the difference.
Written by Jilly Best (PYDA Ambassador)