Find out why and how the academy operates.
The idea for the Academy came about as a result of a chance meeting between the Dame Hilary Cropper Foundation’s trustees and a young man who was working in a winery tasting room. His knowledge of the process of wine-making was impressive and his enthusiasm for the industry was evident. The trustees asked whether he had received any formal training. He explained that, due to his family situation, he had been unable to pursue further education after he matriculated. However, while working in a restaurant, he met the Sales Director of a local winery who recognised his potential and offered him a job. It was here that he learnt all he knew about wine and his talents were realised.
Following this encounter, the Foundation’s trustees explored available options for young people who were similarly excluded from pursuing further education. Currently, 50% of matriculants plan to continue studying, but only 12% - 15% achieve this because of personal circumstances or lack of opportunity. It appeared that there was a gap in the existing training offering where the provision of post-school learning would offer a means to improve young people’s chances of gaining meaningful employment in the wine industry.
To test the theory, UK’s Henley Business School offered a team of Executive MBA students to carry out a pro bono needs analysis on behalf of the Foundation. Their study identified the need for a vocational training programme introducing technical skills across the entire value chain of wine, from vineyard to sales, combining both practical and theoretical learning. In addition, potential employers highlighted the need for personal development in the form of life skills, which represents an important and often overlooked attribute of employability.
As a result, the Cropper Foundation commissioned the development of a tailored curriculum, as well as the design of rigorous student support mechanisms, to optimise the effectiveness of the programme. This resulted in the customised programme as it currently exists, which will be fully tested through a pilot process commencing June 2013.
It is intended that the Academy will transform the lives of the students and their communities, as well as contribute towards broader transformation efforts. Its high quality, youth development programme dovetails with the Government’s education initiatives such as the provision of further education and training (FET) to those unable to access a university education, as well as the National Development Plan 2030 which has a strong focus on education and work for youth. It also supports the wine industry in its aim to achieve fundamental change and transformation, particularly in the context of land reform.
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