Labour Shortages – Particularly of Highly Skilled Labour – Means Students Getting Recruited Before Graduation
Growing quality cannabis requires “hardcore science” along with a green thumb. With legalization fuelling a boom in the cannabis industry, driving up demand (and causing shortages), so too is demand going up in the labour market. The Washington Post (link below) reports that 34 of every 10,000 jobs on Indeed Canada are related to the cannabis industry. That is three times what it was about a year ago. “The green rush,” Alison McMahon, founder of web recruiter Cannabis At Work, called it.
Universities and colleges in Canada are meeting the call, designing specialized programs in cannabis cultivation. McGill University, for example, will be offering graduate degree programs in January 2020. Students must first complete their undergrad in botany or a related field.
“Genetics, breeding — there are multiple strains that have a different chemical composition,” said Anja Geitmann, dean of the faculty of agricultural and environmental sciences at McGill.
Durham College in Oshawa launched its Cannabis Industry Specialization in September with the help of industry – in this case, Toronto’s GrowWise Health Limited.
The competition is so hot that companies are apparently recruiting students before they even graduate. “I’m going to pillage the top of your class. All your 4.0 GPAs, send them this way,” said Beleave chief science officer, Roger Ferreira.
Beleave owns three grow operations in Ontario and now owns Medi-Green, a medical cannabis retail chain. Beleave plans to open two more greenhouses next year, which will almost double its workforce to 120 people. Skills needed including growers who can nurture different cannabis strains as well as experts in soil, light, and pest control. The problem is, most of these jobs are brand new and in some cases job descriptions are being created almost on the fly.
“These are skill sets that have only recently been well-characterized and defined,” Ferreira said.
So who’s applying? Students like Laurie Zuber, who has worked in a nursery for 16 years. This fall she entered Niagara College’s Commercial Cannabis Production program to build on her current skills and get the specialized knowledge she needs.
“They’re my little babies,” she said about growing plants in general. “I love watching them from the seeds.”
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