The importance of a skilled labor force

*Note from the editor*

Hello Everyone! We have been working hard to bring this program to you, so the launch of this website was a major milestone for us. Let me explain the goal of this weekly blog. We plan to take feedback from the public every week and craft a blog with the information our knowledgeable team have regarding whichever topic seems to be the most popular. But before we do any of this you will be hearing from me! My goal will be to give you a transparent update on the progress of our program and where we are in the process. This may include updates on the development of new courses or crafts, upcoming events and why they are so important to us, decisions the programs directors have made on the path of the program, or even issues that we need your help with. My goal is to keep these short and to the point. In the spirit of this that is all I have. Thank you for checking this out and we look forward to growing with you!

Introduction on the size of the cannabis industry by employees in California

The goal of todays post will be to cover the importance of having a professional workforce in the industry and what that means in our opinion. We will use examples from other industries and look at what the rewards and drawbacks are in those industries.

The California Recreational Cannabis Market officially opened its doors on January 1st, 2018. With this came high hopes (pun intended) in February of 2018 Business insider reported an expected market size of $24.5 billion by 2021. From an employee perspective that translated to about 211,000 full time jobs according to an article published by Medical Marijuana Inc. That’s a lot of jobs! The overall economy has about 150 million jobs as of the date of this writing. When taking into consideration that this industry has only moved from the “traditional market” 2 years ago this puts the industry on track to be one of the largest industries in the nation.

Statistics on employees that are trained and certified in other industries

While it is great to see that new jobs are being created, we should stop and ask what level of jobs are coming to town. Is this another Walmart job that will inevitably contribute to the gig economy that has provided many of our younger generation a dismal hope of ever obtaining some of the life goals of previous generations?

This is where knowing your value comes into play. With the ability to quantify skills that an employee has learned employees can understand what he or she should be paid. Many who have left the “traditional market” to finally realize their dream of working in an industry they are truly passionate about are finding that the price of legalization is much higher than anticipated.
For the purposes of this article we are considering a trained workforce as someone who has gone through or completed an apprentice program.

While it is a bit difficult to determine how many apprentices participate in the workforce the Montana State website estimates a total of 147,000 apprentices joining the workforce in America each year.

But what do the employers have to say? Well, according to the same Montana State Website “Eighty-six percent of registered apprenticeship sponsors in the United States say they would strongly recommend hiring an apprentice, in addition to the 11 percent who say they would recommend registered apprenticeship with some reservations. All told, a total of 97 percent of sponsors in the United States recommend apprenticeship programs.”

We will dive into the meaning of that in a minute but think about that for a second. That means that of the 147,000 workers that entered the workforce last year 142,590 were so good at their jobs that their employers were willing to recommend a non-apprentice company to begin working with an apprentice program.

But what are the actual benefits to employees? Well lets look at what the United States Department of Labor has to say- “Hands-on career training: Apprentices receive practical on-the-job training in a wide variety of occupations and industries, such as health care, construction, information technology, transportation, energy, and advanced manufacturing.

  • An education: Apprentices receive hands-on training resulting in improved skills and competencies as well as the potential to earn college credit toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
  • A career: Once the apprenticeship is complete, workers are on their way to a successful long-term career with a competitive salary and little or no educational debt.
  • National credential: When an apprentice graduates from a career training program, he or she earns a certified portable credential accepted by industries and employers across the U.S.”

Let’s apply this to the North Bay Cannabis Apprenticeship Program this means that when an apprentice is accepted into the program they will be taught real skills that directly apply to their interests. Not only do they get real skills, but they also get to take the theory that they learn in a classroom and apply it in the field.

Beyond that many times when I’m speaking to cannabis employees or employers they speak confidently until the “c” word comes out. Then it is a quiet mutter and unconsciously many people look around because we forget that not so long ago proclaiming that you were in this industry came with a heavy price. Now these same people can proudly wear the leaf on their chest and show that in the State of California they no longer need to hide. They are able to receive an accreditation that identifies them as a knowledgeable journeyman in their field. Many of you may ask “what is the point?” or “why does it matter?”, it matters because we are taking this plant that so many of us have grown in the shadows for years and bringing it to the light where it deserves to be. It means that the industry now has the ability to stand up and make it’s first strides into the legal world. Apprentice workers now can attend accredited schools and build off the knowledge they already have and contribute to the overall knowledge of the industry.

As an employer why would you do this? Since we are now looking at a legal industry let’s go back to the United States Department of Labor and look into how other industries have profited off of a trained workforce.

  • Customized training that meets industry standards, tailored to the specific needs of businesses, resulting in highly-skilled employees.
  • Increased knowledge transfer through on-the-job learning from an experienced mentor, combined with education courses to support work-based learning.
  • Enhanced employee retention: 91% of apprentices that complete an apprenticeship are still employed nine months later.
  • A safer workplace that may reduce worker compensation costs, due to the program’s emphasis on safety training.
  • A stable and reliable pipeline of qualified workers.
  • A systematic approach to training that ensures employees are trained and certified to produce at the highest skill levels required for the occupation.”

While most of this speaks for itself, I’d like to touch on the ability to now have a clear established pipeline. This means that the entry level trimmer now has a strong understanding of the overall plant or that driver you hired now can explain to customers how they may react to certain plants and what the science is behind the strains that we love. Employers don’t have to struggle to find a way to train an excellent worker with potential so they may assume a new role. Instead that worker can complete courses and use defined steps to make a smooth progression throughout their career.

This industry is rapidly changing and adjusting to the challenges of todays market. This is an opportunity for employees to grow with employers and adjust to become highly skilled and efficient assets to the organization. It is time that we stop looking at positions in this industry as jobs, instead we should look as each opportunity as a way to advance your individual career.

Thank you!
#cannabisISacareer

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