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We believe enormous talent exists amongst the youth of South Africa. They experience many barriers to growth and development and as a result, in many cases this talent remains unrealised. Our role is to attract those who are ready to bring change to their lives, to work with them throughout the year and then to “launch” them to a successful future.At the end of the programme, they represent “the difference” - they are personally different, they are able to access sustainable employment, and they can effect real change within their families and communities.During the research phase, the project was called “Pinotage” to reflect a uniquely South African brand, which is strong, distinctive and appealing. This name and its values has remained at the core of our Academy brand.The PYDA programme closes the gap between high school education and employment by offering vocational training, work readiness and personal development skills. Our programme aligns with existing initiatives focused on education, youth development, unemployment and the empowerment of women.Due to a legacy of poverty, historical disadvantage and limited access to quality education, there is a generation of disaffected youth with few prospects. Many young people have limited emotional intelligence, which is often compounded by a lack of guidance, role models and mentors. The cycle is self-perpetuating, with drug and alcohol abuse rife, teenage pregnancies common and regular incidences of violence and abuse.South Africa’s high unemployment rate and lack of access to meaningful employment compound the problem. There is little educational opportunity to develop the skills required by employers, particularly in the context of the wine industry, one of the biggest employers in the Western Cape.Our full-time 12-month integrated programme covers both vocational skills and personal development modules. Technical skills comprise 40% of the curriculum and include vineyard production, winemaking, sales, marketing & tourism and hospitality. 40% concentrates on personal development to build self-awareness and self-confidence to prepare for the world of work. The final 20% of the programme is for in-programme work placements where students practice and embed their theoretical skills in the workplace.Uniquely, the programme is not based on a traditional academic year, but reflects employee holiday allowances and public holidays. Student allowances are paid based on performance criteria and the Academy applies workplace processes and policies, including discipline, stringent timekeeping and attendance requirements and quarterly performance reviews.Students are subject to both external assessments for SAQA accredited modules, earning the relevant credits, and internal assessment for non-accreditable modules. The pass mark for each module and for the programme as a whole is 75%. Access to and use of information technology also helps to embed learning and gives students a further competitive advantage in the modern business context.Our holistic and innovative approach brings positive transformation to our students, improving their quality of life and providing the means to eradicate the effects of poverty. A key differentiator of the programme’s impact is the emphasis on personal development. This provides our graduates with enhanced self-confidence, the ability to manage confict and barriers, and the inspiration and vision for a positive future.