The dusty roads leading to Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry Training Institute were buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Over 500 local learners from 24 schools in the Eastern Cape had gathered for the AgriSETA provincial career summit, which aimed to widen the scope of career choices for rural students.
The event was a collaborative effort between AgriSETA, Fort Cox, the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, and the Agriculture Research Council. And it was a resounding success, with 36 exhibitors from academic institutions, sister SETAs, private sector employers, and other key stakeholders in attendance.
The learners, ranging from grades 9 to 12, were in for a treat as they interacted with industry experts and learned about the vast array of opportunities available in the agriculture sector. AgriSETA’s chairperson of the board, Sharon Sepeng, delivered an inspiring keynote address, setting the tone for the day’s events.
“I am thrilled to see so many young, bright faces here today,” said Sepeng. “We want you to know that your future is in your hands, and the opportunities in the agriculture sector are limitless. The core activity of this event is to give you a chance to decide your future, and we are here to support you every step of the way.”
AgriSETA chief executive Dr Innocent Sirovha echoed Sepeng’s sentiments, emphasising the importance of education in driving economic growth and social development.
“Encouraging school-going learners to take up careers in agriculture is the foundation of our work at grassroots level,” said Sirovha. “But we wanted to do more. By bringing on board sister SETAs and other stakeholders, we were able to widen the scope and provide learners with a diverse range of career choices.”
The learners spent at least 20 minutes at each stand, interacting with presenters and gaining insights into the sector. The presentations were interactive, authentic, and of the highest quality, ensuring that learners left with a newfound appreciation for the opportunities available to them.
As the event drew to a close, the excitement and anticipation were palpable. The learners had gained a wealth of knowledge and a renewed sense of purpose. And AgriSETA, in collaboration with its partners, had taken a significant step towards driving inclusivity and sustainability in the agriculture sector.
“This event has been a resounding success,” said Sepeng. “We want to assure you that AgriSETA is here to support you every step of the way. The future is in your hands, and we can’t wait to see what you will achieve.”
As the event came to a close, local learners expressed their gratitude to AgriSETA for the inspiration and opportunity provided. “I never thought there were so many exciting careers in agriculture. This event has really opened my eyes to the possibilities,” said one learner. Another added, “Thank you AgriSETA for bringing us this event. I feel more confident in choosing a career now.”