The Wine Industry Network for Expertise and Technology (Winetech), an organisation that coordinates research, training and technology transfer in the wine industry, hopes to form a steadfast partnership with sector education and training authorities (Setas), the FoodBev Seta and AgriSeta, to develop skills in the wine industry.
The ‘Macroeconomic Impact Study’, conducted in 2009 by the nonprofit organisation South African Wine Industry Information and Systems, indicated that the wine industry’s activities in South Africa sustained about 275 606 employment opportunities during 2008.
Of this, the wine industry provided 58% of the jobs for workers from the unskilled labour sector, 29% for workers from the semiskilled labour sector and 13% for workers from the skilled labour sector.
As most of the workers in the wine industry are from the unskilled labour sector, Winetech aims to engage specifically those who are active in the lower levels, such as the cellar and vineyard workers, as they have not received much training, says Winetech training committee chairperson Natasha Louw.
“As the South African wine industry competes at a global level, we would like to see the upliftment of the industry’s employees at all levels,” she adds.
A lack of skills influences the local industry’s productivity and, as it is globally competitive, it needs skilled labourers to increase productivity, says Louw.
Winetech executive manager Gerard Martin says between 70% and 80% of the workers at the lower levels of the wine industry are unskilled.
Louw says that, to meet the need for skills development at this level, all relevant Setas, in conjunction with Winetech, need to play an active role in skills development by conducting a sector skills plan for the wine industry and by funding and hosting training initiatives.
Winetech’s training committee hosted a strategic session last year, in which it adopted strategic objectives to identify the current state of the industry and the strategies to deal with the skills gap in the industry.
Martin says Winetech has been engaging with AgriSeta since June, when it awarded Winetech commodity organisation status.
AgriSeta will use Winetech as the first point of entry into the wine industry for skills development needs and research and will provide funding for key training programmes to close critical skills gaps.
In its assessment of the skills in the wine industry, Winetech identified a strong focus on technical skills development in the lower level labour sector, but a lack of life skills and management development.
“People have the technical skills to do the job, but lack the background information on why the job is carried out and what the job means in the context of the entire industry or the product they are developing,” explains Martin.
Through appropriate vocational training, the link between practical skills and theory will be established, says Louw.
A Winetech initiative, in partnership with AgriSeta as project funder, will provide junior managers, or those with the potential to become junior managers, with a general management National Qualifications Frame- work (NQF) level four training programme.
Martin says that, besides focusing on the development of the NQF level four training, personal finances, basic hygiene and NQF level two supervisory courses will also be initiated.
The pilot initiative, which started in October in Paarl, Stellenbosch, Wellington and Franschhoek, will result in 110 learners being trained.
Further, the wine industry training workgroup, in partnership with AgriSeta and a training service provider, will launch adult basic education and training courses after the harvest in 2013. The project is in the candidate screening phase to determine each person’s skills level, says Louw.
Meanwhile, on a tertiary education level, Winetech collaborates with Stellenbosch University on providing syllabus development and funding for training support and professional services for the Department of Viticulture and Oenology and the Institute for Wine Biotechnology.
Winetech provides postgraduate students from the universities of Stellenbosch, Cape Town and Pretoria, who are working on wine and vine-related projects culminating from specific needs in the wine industry, with project funding, part of which is a bursary.
Winetech also developed training material for vineyard workers from NQF level one to NQF level four. A pilot project was launched at four cellars – Robertson cellar, Riebeek cellar, Windmeul cellar and Wellington wines – where cellar workers were trained between 2008 and 2011 using the specific modules.