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The first initiative based on the Foundation's pioneering youth development model is

the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, which runs a series of 12-month programmes

for 18-25 year old unemployed South Africans resident in the Cape Winelands



Wine Programme

The South African wine sector, with its related streams of hospitality and tourism, provided an excellent opportunity to launch the Foundation's first Youth Development Academy.


In selecting this industry, the Foundation's trustees were mindful of the industry being :

  • an important contributor to GDP, as well as a major employer

  • based in a region where youth unemployment is high

  • associated with a high level of skills and technical expertise

  • a business sector committed to transformation

  • aligned with the Government’s commitment to job creation within the agricultural sector

The Stellenbosch-based Pinotage Youth Development Academy opened its doors to 25 students in the Western Cape in June 2013.  The 12-month curriculum was based on the Academy’s core model of personal development, intertwined with classroom learning and practical experience of the full wine value chain, from the vineyard through to the tasting room.  This programme has run continuously ever since, with class sizes ranging from 25-30 each year and students drawn from the Stellenbosch/Paarl/Franschhoek triangle.

Fruit Programme 

As further testimony to the effectiveness of the approach, a pilot programme was launched in November 2015 in partnership with major UK retailer Tesco, this time with a technical focus on fruit growing and production.  Drawing students from the Grabouw area in the Western Cape, the curriculum was designed around the Academy's core model of personal development, with the practical learning tailored to the A-Z of apple and pear production, from orchard to retailer.  20 talented students graduated from the initial programme and a second class started in June 2017, to build on its success.

The results underline the success of the model:


Student retention: Since its launch in 2013, the student retention rate averages 95%.  With a drop out rate of a mere 2%, the Academy’s experience compares with a national drop out rate for students from similar backgrounds in tertiary education typically between 60-70%.  Those few students who have not completed the course have been excluded on disciplinary grounds.


Graduate employment:  across all classes to date, over 90% of graduates are either now meaningfully employed or in further education. 

Wine Tourism Programme


In 2016, a further programme was launched, this time with 28 students from an expanded catchment area that included Khayelitsha in Cape Town.  The year-long course not only built on the strong foundation of the initial Wine Programme, but also recognised the joint commitment by both Provincial Government and the wine industry to the fast-growing sector of wine tourism. Here the curriculum included technical learning and practical experience around the wine value chain, as well as focusing more strongly on hospitality and tourism, both areas with expanding employment potential.

With the on-going support of the Foundation, the Pinotage Youth Development Academy continues to build on its successes, with over 150 young beneficiaries having experienced its programmes to date.  There are plans to create pop-up academies in other agricultural sectors where there is a demand for well-trained work-ready employees.

We are extremely grateful to the six individuals who act as Patrons of the Academy, whose lives and achievements are a true inspiration.  They are Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Jan "Boland" Coetzee, Dame Linda Dobbs DBE, Reuben Riffel, Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe and Baroness Thomas of Winchester.

Having proven the success of the Youth Development model and its approach, it is the Foundation's ambition to replicate, expand and extend the Academy's programmes into other geographical areas and into further business sectors with growing employment prospects within South Africa.

Our goal is to help more young South Africans transform their lives through the world of work to benefit themselves, their families and their communities.

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