Vangst, a cannabis industry recruitment business, issued a new report this month that draws something of a flow chart for the growing employment base in the cannabis industry. These new employees up and down the cannabis supply chain must be coming from some other line of work, right?
The top sector from which cannabis employees arrive is retail, according to the report, and the dispensary environment offers a neat translation of that customer-service skill set. But that’s not the only lateral move that brings folks into the industry.
Other “feeder industries” cited by Vangst include food services, manufacturing, health care, marketing, construction and hospitality. Considering that the U.S. cannabis space now supports 430,000 jobs and counting (according to Leafly’s 2022 numbers), the Vangst report adds some context to the inflow of workers.
The backdrop of this data is what many have termed “the Great Resignation,” which took the credit for at least some of the 47 million Americans who quit their jobs in 2021. That figure is important, because Vangst notes that 33% of cannabis employees have been in the industry for less than a year.
“As cannabis companies professionalize, they’re hiring for more and more traditional roles that don’t necessarily require knowledge of the cannabis plant or its history,” the report states. “They’re also increasingly able to match or beat traditional sector pay.”
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What that rapid churn into the industry means is that on-the-job training can become more nuanced, more tailored to individual companies’ needs. Vangst suggests that employers might look for a softer set of job qualifications, such as “adaptability,” “grit,” “solution-oriented thinking” and “mission-driven work ethic.” Those traits can be drawn out in the interview process or during the probationary training periods that many dispensaries or cultivation businesses use to introduce new hires to the work.
The same goes for employers themselves. Adaptability is vital, because employee turnover remains fairly high in these early years of cannabis.
“Despite being an extremely fractured market due to federal prohibition, the industry is rapidly becoming more professional,” the report states. “Venture capitalists, stockholders, and funds want returns; large multistate operators, or MSOs, are optimizing the retail experience, forcing local independents to do the same to stay competitive; consolidation is happening at a large scale.”