Pot jobs are 'legion' but Canadian cannabis companies struggling to find workers
The weed industry is booming but cannabis companies are struggling with a growing problem: finding the right employees in the run-up to Canada legalizing recreational marijuana in October.
As Canada becomes only the second country to legalize recreational use, the cannabis industry could add 150,000 jobs over the next several years, according to an estimate from Deloitte.
An expert says the number of jobs available are “legion” and that “it’s a great time to come into this new marketplace” but companies have lots of job vacancies they’re anxious to fill.
“There’s quite a range that we’re looking for. Everybody is scaling up for the new world come October 17,” Allan Rewak, executive director of the Cannabis Council of Canada, told CTV’s Your Morning Monday.
“If you have the enthusiasm to be a part of this growing sector, there’s a lot of opportunity in the cannabis sector for you,” he said, adding that demand is high for anyone with marketing or pharmaceutical experience. Workers familiar with consumer packaged goods are also in demand.
He told CTV News that understaffing across the board is a massive problem but a good one to have.
Pot producers’ hardest and most crucial position to fill is that of master grower, to oversee all aspects of cultivation.
Colleges, companies facing 'new world'
On Indeed.ca, a popular job-posting site, there are more than 500 full-time jobs ranging from such entry-level positions asbud trimmer, to retail-store workers to executive roles, including director of international expansion and construction for Canada’s largest cannabis company, Canopy Growth.
The bulk of Canada’s 115 licensed weed producers are in Ontario and British Columbia—with an additional 588 applicants awaiting approval. But their challenge is finding experienced workers and cultivators in a relatively new industry. While companies are training people on the job,a handful of Canadian colleges and universities are starting to tailor education programs to the industry demands.
“We haven’t built the perfect cannabis worker yet and we’re doing that together,” Rewak said.
At least 11 post-secondary institutions, including in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Nova Scotia and Montreal, have added cannabis programs. More than six colleges offer diplomas in cannabis cultivation, and a few universities have introduced courses in cannabis business and law.
These include: Niagara College, Durham College, Vancouver's Kwantlen Polytechnic University, McGill University, Community College of New Brunswick, Loyalist College in Belleville, Ont., University of Ottawa, St. Francis Xavier University, Ryerson, College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, B.C., and Olds College, Alta.
Rewak was excited to see the new programs being implemented as it will likely lead to better equipped workers.
In the meantime, Rewak says, companies are looking for workers who’ve dealt with other highly regulated industries such as alcohol or tobacco.
“Weed is safer but we need those people with skill sets and cautious points to come onto our teams,” Rewak said.
Stigma of weed is 'eroding'
He added that the stigma for weed is “eroding,” with 20 to 25 per cent of Canadians reporting using cannabis on a daily to monthly basis.
Rewak says that applicants who smoke weed recreationally isn’t necessarily a “bonus … but it’s becoming less of a negative.” If companies want the best, he says that companies need to become more accepting of people with an “experience with cannabis.”
He adds that passion for the product is motivatingworkers in a way he’s never seen before.
“We’re building something entirely new and that is jet fuel.”