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Employment in cannabis pre-2020 could be seen as more of a job, whereas now, people see the industry as a true career investment.
This year was a rollercoaster ride for the cannabis industry, which had its fair share of highs and lows. There were legalization breakthroughs, while various cannabis companies enforced massive layoffs.
However, there were also those that did quite a bit of hiring.
What’s interesting is that many companies at both ends cited the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for their actions. For some companies, the firing trend started back in 2019, before word of the coronavirus spread. On the other hand, many companies were negatively affected by the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.
To better understand what happened and what we can expect regarding employment in the marijuana space in 2021, I spoke with Kelsea Appelbaum, the senior talent manager at Vangst, the Denver-based leading recruitment platform for the cannabis industry.
She explained that the industry was forced to be innovative.
“COVID happened and the world reacted,” Appelbaum says. “Like players in most other industries, cannabis companies were faced with a major challenge at the beginning of the pandemic — namely, how to survive. Off the bat, most line items considered ‘optional’ in cannabis were paused, hiring included. Initially, this shift in priorities seemed precarious for our business and for industry job seekers, but another change took place when almost every regulated cannabis market deemed our industry ‘essential.’”
Ultimately, the industry saw an uptick in roles throughout the fourth quarter, I’m told.
“What we have found is that instead of companies mass-hiring with loose scaling visions in mind, they now are focused on truly critical hires,” Appelbaum says. “Salaries are more competitive, roles/expectations are more ironed out, and companies are in a position where the hires they’re making are integral parts of their organizations.”
But was this a good or bad year for cannabis employment?
“Short answer: it was surprisingly good,” Appelbaum says. “Employment in cannabis pre-2020 could be seen as more of a job, whereas now, people see the industry as a true career investment. Most industries were faced with the truth that they were not “essential” when the world shifted, and leaders within our industry finally had the ability to show the candidate market that a role in cannabis is well-worth the leap.”
She added that the industry has seen “much higher-caliber candidates looking for employment opportunities, and we’ve seen the industry embrace top tier talent.“
Published: January 05, 2021.