(Canadian Press photo)

B.C. universities, colleges offering more training for marijuana industry

A university in Surrey is training students for the future of legalized pot

From growing the perfect crop to marketing within restrictive rules, Canadian colleges and universities are cultivating courses for those wanting to work in the booming marijuana industry.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University started offering online courses in cannabis production, marketing and financing about three years ago after officials at the British Columbia school realized there was a need for training and education around medicinal marijuana, said David Purcell, the university’s director of emerging business.

READ: Pot shops speak out on B.C.’s proposed rules on age, retail plan

Demand is skyrocketing, prompting Kwantlen to offer the classes every four weeks instead of every eight to keep up with demand, he said.

“The uptake in the last six months or so, the demand has risen significantly as we approach recreational legalization, obviously. You can’t go a day without seeing some sort of news about cannabis or regulation of the upcoming recreational market,” Purcell said.

About 1,200 people have taken the classes, most of whom are between 25 and 40 years old and were working full-time in another industry, he said.

The university isn’t alone in offering marijuana-related courses. Niagara College is working on a certificate in marijuana production and the New Brunswick Community College is already teaching cultivation.

There’s been a void in the educational marketplace when it comes to training specifically for the burgeoning marijuana market, said Debbie Johnston, dean of the school of continuing education at Durham College in Oshawa, Ont.

“Employers are struggling to find people with that industry-specific knowledge. It’s an opportunity that, quite frankly, hasn’t been met and we saw it and we thought, this is a great thing to get into,” she explained.

Durham College recently began offering a two-day course that provides an introduction to all things marijuana.

The first sessions were well attended, Johnston said, attracting a variety of professions, including a chef, a farmer, investors and health-care workers.

Marijuana companies are looking for professionals, like accountants or business managers, who have industry-specific knowledge, from the terminology and history of the industry to the regulatory framework and basics of cannabis plants, Johnston added.

READ: London Drugs ‘ready’ to dispense marijuana

“What employers want is to know that people are coming in with a basic understanding,” she said.

Alison McMahon runs Cannabis at Work, a recruiting agency for marijuana companies, and said completing cannabis courses can help candidates stand out from the crowd.

“I think what it signals more than anything is that somebody has been proactive and they have taken the time to take one of the courses that are on the market,” she said.

Right now, there aren’t a lot of job seekers with cannabis education on their resumes, McMahon noted, but that’s likely to change as both the industry and educational offerings grow.

Kwantlen and Durham College are both planning to expand the variety of marijuana classes on offer.

A course teaching responsible retail sales, safe handling and strain identification will soon be offered through Kwantlen, and the school is also working on a cultivation course that will see students go out and work with cannabis plants at licensed production facilities, Purcell said.

Durham College, meanwhile, is working on an elective about marijuana legalization and a class for medical professionals focused on cannabis in health care, Johnston said.

The new courses will likely be joined by many more down the road as the college prepares workers for the emerging industry, she said.

“It’s growing by leaps and bounds. This is where the jobs are,” she said.

Education will be vital to fighting generations of stigma around the soon-to-be legal product, Purcell said.

“In order for the industry as a whole to gain legitimacy, people really need to know what it’s all about,” he said. ”We have to alleviate the stigma and the way to do that is really teaching people what the industry’s all about.”

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Premier promises Nanaimo byelection before February budget debate

Historically safe NDP seat will be vacated by longtime MLA Leonard Krog

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Northfield intersection realignment won’t improve traffic flow

Is the new design actually any better, asks letter writer

Suspect who died at Nanaimo ferry terminal shot himself at the same time police fired

Officers didn’t commit any offence, says police watchdog office

Explosion at homeless camp causes brush fire along Millstone

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews haul hundreds of metres of hose down ravine

Cedar residents protest homeless encampment near Nanaimo River

Residents raise concerns about environmental impact and crime, but offer also assistance

OPINION: Nanaimo not only voted, but voted with purpose

Nanaimo’s civic leadership will see the change that so many wanted

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

More court before Dutch man charged in Amanda Todd case is extradited here

Appeals must be dealt with in Europe, before charges faced in B.C.

Crown says man guilty of B.C. girl’s 1978 murder based on alleged confession

Jury hears details of girl’s 1978 murder while Crown says man should be convicted of girl’s murder based on alleged confession.

BCHL alumni has NHL jersey retired by Anaheim Ducks

Paul Kariya played with the Penticton Vees from 1990-1992

Most Read