Cannabis related jobs on the rise ahead of legalization

Niagara College’s cannabis building.  From left, Al Unwin and Denzil Rose. (Photo Niagara College)

BY COLE SHELTON

With cannabis legalization just a week away, companies are hiring their staff and getting ready to start growing and selling.

One startup, AHLOT, is offering $50 an hour to test out their cannabis and ensure it is okay to go to market.

AHLOT has been fielding applicants from every province and territory in Canada. Not only are Canadians applying for the job, but AHLOT were getting an applicant every minute when they first posted the job, according to Somya Anand, account director of spPR Inc., which represents the company.

“Honestly, the response (to our job posting) has been incredible and the interest has far exceeded our expectations,” said Anand.

Not only are companies starting up in the cannabis industry, so is education at Canadian colleges and universities.

Niagara College began offering a program in September to get ahead of the pack.

The Commercial Cannabis Production program is helping to meet a vital workforce need in the cannabis industry that exists even before legalization, said Alan Unwin, Niagara College’s associate dean of Environment and Horticulture.

“As the industry continues to expand at such a rapid pace, our program will be producing highly skilled workers, with hands-on experience in all aspects of cannabis production. This will set students up for success as growers, operation managers, and positions related to quality control and assurance, post-harvest and propagation operation. Our grads will be walking into this industry as leaders in their field.”

Niagara College’s program is needed as, according to a recent study by Deloitte, the cannabis sector could add as many as 150,000 jobs over the next few years.

The cannabis industry is set to “blow up” with jobs in the coming days, weeks and years. In Colorado, where cannabis has been legal since 2012, the state has created 17,821 full-time jobs, with it totalling 0.7 percent of all jobs in Colorado. Not only are jobs being created, but it is also creating new-found money. In 2016 where consumers spent $236.3 billion on cannabis.

“Our experienced faculty, industry connections, and entrepreneurial nature as a college really positioned us to capitalize quickly on the opportunity for a full, hands-on post-secondary program in the cannabis industry,” Unwin added.

The prediction is the same thing will happen in Canada with jobs and money. The boom is coming and Niagara College and AHLOT are ready to be a big part of it.

“As Canada’s fastest growing industry, jobs in the cannabis space are already highly coveted and are attracting some of the best and brightest talents from industries such as consumer packaged goods, beverage/alcohol and Bay Street,” added Anand. “As cannabis becomes even more normalized and destigmatized, the allure of joining a cannabis company will shine as bright as any other high-growth industry in this wonderful country.”

While AHLOT has had thousands of applicants for their job posting, Niagara College is getting hundreds of applicants for their college program, evidence that reaction to the cannabis legalization is a good one.

(Created by Cole Shelton)

“We’ve had very positive reactions to the program, both from students and from licensed producers in the cannabis industry. On the student side, prior to class beginning, over 300 applicants applied for our initial cohort of 24 students,” Unwin said. “Students are excited to be able to work hands-on with cannabis plants in a modern, secure facility, and are already benefitting from bursaries, internships and other on-the-job experiences thanks to our connections with current industry leaders.

“Reaction from industry leaders has also been enthusiastic. Licensed producers from across Canada continue to come to us expressing interest in the program,” he added. “They see the value our future graduates will bring to their businesses, and they’re eager to partner with us to support their workforce needs.”

The next step for AHLOT, is once cannabis becomes legal, it can finally make the testers official. For now, however, AHLOT will spearhead the start of jobs in the cannabis industry, but they know other companies will soon be starting up.

“AHLOT exists to inspire the thinker in each of us,” said Anand “As a curation brand at heart, the jobs of the Cannabis Curation Committee are unique to AHLOT, but only time will tell if we inspire others to do the same.”

About Cole Shelton 6 Articles
Cole Shelton is a Journalism student at Sheridan College, while also being a credentialed media member for the Toronto Blue Jays and Raptors 905. Cole has written for USA Today SMG, NBLCanada, SB Nation, and the Canadian Baseball Network among others.

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