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Where there’s a WIL, there’s a way

Empowering farming graduates through learnerships

Adrian Infernus on Unsplash

The KZN agricultural Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programme, a joint initiative between The Future Farmers Foundation, the Agricultural Sector Education Training Authority (AgriSETA) and the KZN Agricultural Union (Kwanalu), this year sees more than 100 young people in agriculture successfully take part in the fourth year of this inspiring project.

The WIL programme (WIL-4, as in the fourth year it has run) was born out of the highly successful farming education initiative, Future Farmers, which provides 12-month work placements on farms for young unemployed graduates.

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“Our core focus, at Future Farmers, has always been on non-graduates, however, in partnership with AgriSETA and Kwanalu, we have extended this opportunity to young unemployed graduates as well,” explains founder of Future Farmers, Judy Stuart.

Farming graduates around the world learn new skills and gain valuable experience through learnerships. Picture: ThisisEngineering on Unsplash

The WIL programmes have run annually since 2016, affording placements for young graduates, with the aim of providing employment and practical experience on farms for a year. Each WIL programme is funded by AgriSETA, with the current WIL 4 running for the past eight months, having started in August, 2020.

CEO of AgriSETA Dr Innocent Sirovha said, “It is AgriSETA’s mandate to uplift the agricultural sector and to assess the impact funding can make on youth training programmes. The Future Farmers’ WIL programme is not only about jobs, but about these youths going on to create opportunities and about sustainable growth in the sector.”

The programme gives young people the opportunity to ‘learn as they earn’ by finding apprentice positions on local and, then later, international farms. Picture: Dan Asaki on Unsplash

Howick-based, Future Farmers is a unique social programme which aims to cultivate the skills and ignite a passion for farming in young aspiring farmers, between the ages of 18 and 30, by providing them with real job experiences in a field of agriculture of their choice. The programme is designed to give young people the opportunity to “learn as they earn” by finding apprentice positions on local and, then later, international farms.

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“Many of these graduates, having proven their value, have been offered permanent positions on the farms where they have been placed. Others have gone on to be selected for, and benefit from, the Future Farmers overseas internship programme,” says Stuart.

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“The WIL-4 programme is a great opportunity for young people to grow their expertise and bring their internationally acquired wisdom back to SA,” said Sirovha.

The graduates in the current programme are working in the sector across a range of commodities, including cheese, beef, pigs, avocados, maize, vegetables, rabbits, hydroponics, flowers, nursery, poultry, dairy, indigenous herbs, macadamias and forestry.

Talented young farmers

“These programmes have provided excellent results and we are hugely proud of the talented young farmers who are emerging,” said Sirovha.

CEO of Kwanalu, Sandy La Marque, praised the farmers who play a proactive and progressive role in ensuring that learners are receiving valuable commercial farming experience and learnership.

“Their support and commitment to the programme is essential to supplement the education of these young future farmers on top of the theoretical training that they have already completed. Kwanalu commends both AgriSETA and Future Farmers for the immense value they bring to the future of the industry,” said La Marque.

Click here for further information on Kwanalu

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