How do you attract the next generation to the wine industry? Take the message to them, smash stereotypes and show them the sky’s the limit.
With a drop in the uptake of new students in wine-related fields, the wine industry is actively working alongside the broader agricultural sector to create awareness about career opportunities in the wine value chain. There has been a decline in the number of students studying viticulture over the past few years, says Hanlé Theron, lecturer and head of agriculture at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Wellington. “Students who reject agriculture and viticulture focus on winemaking and don’t consider the complete value chain. If the industry succeeds in changing the perception of exclusivity, I’m sure the interest will grow,” she says.
There’s a vast range of career opportunities beyond the day-to-day cultivation of vines, including a fast-growing wine tourism and hospitality sector. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution will also require the wine industry to attract people in engineering and other technology-driven fields,” says Dr Albert Strever, head of Stellenbosch University’s Agro Innovation Hub.
Catch them young
Food for Mzansi kicked off its 18-leg Agri Career Roadshow last year to showcase the A-Z of careers in the agricultural sector. The event is supported by more than 40 partners, including the provincial educational departments, universities, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and large commercial companies such as VKB, Bayer and MSD.
“We grew tired of the stereotypes surrounding producers and wanted to positively influence a future generation of agriculturists,” Food for Mzansi co-founder Ivor Price says. They wanted to bring the varsities and colleges to rural areas where many learners value agriculture, but hadn’t been exposed to all the opportunities the sector presents.
“It’s not your typical career day with bored learners collecting freebies,” Ivor says. “We sing and dance, and learners get to direct questions at people who actually work in the industry – people from similar backgrounds who understand their fears, but also the immense potential.”
Food for Mzansi aims to reach 20 000 learners across all nine provinces in April and May, Ivor says. He invites the wine industry to use the roadshow to increase awareness of wine-related careers.
The student connection
The Agrijob Career Portal was launched in 2018 in response to the agricultural sector’s concern over a shortage of graduates with appropriate skills. Many graduates also struggled to find employment or internship opportunities. Stellenbosch ……
A full version of this article appears in the January/February 2020 issue of WineLand Magazine. Buy your copy here