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Wine industry prioritising transformation and talent development

The South African wine industry has prioritised transformation and the development of people as key imperatives to ensure a strong and sustainable future, with industry bodies initiating strategies, structures and funding to facilitate enterprise development effective learning, as well as social investment initiatives, over the past decade.

Photo by Rodrigo Abreu on Unsplash

The challenges at hand require fresh thinking. Resources, therefore, need to be afforded in a smarter way than it has been in the past.

Driving transformation and development


A Wine Industry Value Chain Round Table (WIVCRT) was initiated in 2016 to strengthen collaboration between industry, government and civil society as an outflow of the industry’s strategic framework known as WISE (Wine Industry Strategic Exercise).

Phil Bowes, transformation and development manager at Vinpro
“It appears that every R1m invested in the South African wine industry, almost five jobs are created. It is the industry’s collective responsibility, with government and civil society, to drive transformation and talent development at every level,” says Phil Bowes, member of the South African Wine and Brandy Transformation Unit, and transformation and development manager at Vinpro.

In partnership with the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), the industry has recently revised its processes behind meeting the statutory requirement of spending its 20% levy fund allocations on transformation. The recent revisions place funds and programmes under the management of the Wine Industry Transformation Unit. Levies to the value of R72m have been invested in transformation programmes over the past four years, with proportional focus on enterprise development, skills development and socio-economic development.

The private sector spent R125m on 172 socio-economic investment projects in 2016/17, and thanks to the strong collaboration with industry, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture secured national government funding of R12m in 2017 for enterprise development on black-owned farms.

A Vinpro transformation desk was established in 2009, which offers support to approximately 50 black-owned wine brands and 50 black economic empowerment initiatives, while assisting to link these businesses and black graduates to business opportunities in the wine industry.

The Association of Alcohol Responsibility and Education (Aware), previously known as ARA, was relaunched in 2017 to raise awareness regarding responsible alcohol use and to drive socio-economic development in rural communities. This is a joint initiative between alcoholic beverage companies who contribute to Aware’s R150m annual budget.

One of the Aware initiatives that have gained momentum entails the employment of four full-time social workers in targeted wine industry communities. A total of 1,809 farm residents received counselling in the year ending June 2017, 1,356 children were monitored at child development and aftercare facilities and 47 crèche and aftercare workers were trained.

According to the Wine and Agriculture Ethical Trade Association (WIETA), wine grape production volumes which have been subjected to audits of ethical working conditions on farms and in wine cellars, has grown from 20% in 2015 to 66% in 2017 in terms of total industry output. This means that 39,917 farm workers and 1,400 wine grape producers now help to produce more than 900,000 tonnes of wine grapes under conditions which are transparent and subjected to independent ethical audits.

Furthermore, South Africa is the largest supplier of Fairtrade accredited wines in the world.

Talent development and retention remains a priority


“Talent development and retention in the wine industry remains a priority for the South African wine and brandy industry. We are actively working with other stakeholders on fast-tracking this through various initiatives such as the industry’s online learner management system,” says Bowes.

Vinpro’s own annual series of vineyard training modules trained 738 employees at farm level and Winetech study groups equipped more than 400 cellar assistants with knowledge in 2017, both of these initiatives were implemented by the Vinpro Foundation, a five-year-old non-profit organisation which was established to address matters of training and socio-economic development in the wine industry.
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