Missouri cannabis careers are growing post legalization
As of November 30, 2022, there were 10,101 individuals with Missouri marijuana agent IDs. In the three months after legalization, that number grew by nearly 30% with 12,971 agents licensed by the state at the end of February 2023.
At the same time, agent application numbers grew from 289 in November, to more than 500 in December, to more than 1100 in both January and February.
Meanwhile, hundreds of open jobs are currently listed online – with a majority posted in the last month and many in the last week, and recruiters are pouring through resumes to find candidates to fill openings.
“Hiring in this industry is wildly competitive, so we coach our clients that the only way to stay ahead is to be proactive, not reactive, by setting up live, well-curated job postings through multiple channels 24/7/365,” explained Billy Giordano, Co-Founder of StaffedUp.
“Combined with quality marketing, converting those looks into real hires requires utilizing tools & automation to pre-qualify, evaluate, & respond in real-time. It’s a necessary protocol if you want to compete and win those great hires,” he continued.
Success creates turnover
As with any industry, success breeds opportunity, and with opportunity comes change and turnover. Christy Essex with Se7en Staffing & Employment Solutions explained the adversity employers are facing. “Along with the current state of the hiring frenzy due to the increase in new cannabis openings, employers are also facing some turnover in the industry,” she said. “Employees are jumping ship. While facilities are increasing their overall headcount they are also trying to combat turnover and stay competitive in order to attract great talent. I have been speaking in depth with Missouri cannabis managers and owners on how to help combat turnover. One important question I am asking business owners and managers is ‘What does your orientation/onboarding and first day look like for your new hires?’ Employers should be taking the time for a ‘transformational’ onboarding versus a ‘transactional’ onboarding.”.
“Taking the necessary time to introduce the company and its history including the managers and leadership, and reviewing expectations and duties of their role is well worth the time. Cannabis employers are competing for great talent and while it is enticing to immediately start the employee producing in their role, a transformational onboarding on the employee’s first day will definitely make a huge impact on turnover, especially during that critical first 30 days of hire.”
Education is the key
For those seeking opportunities in the industry, the growth of the cannabis industry dictates an increased demand for qualified professionals across multiple sectors of the industry, including cultivation, extraction, testing laboratories, and retail. That translates to more than budtenders and cultivators, operators are more in need now than ever for experienced professionals with experience in logistics, accounting, facilities management, and a plethora of other areas of operations that require seasoned professionals.
That demand has created a corresponding rise in interest in cannabis-focused education. Enrollment numbers at Saint Louis University’s Cannabis Science and Operations program have grown by 400% from the inaugural class in 2020 to the registered class that commenced in January of 2023.
Separate from the days of cannabis education programs that offered certificates for a two-day course or an online symposium, programs at traditional, accredited universities like those at Saint Louis University and Northwest Missouri State University are helping to legitimize the industry and provide the type of employees operators are anxious to pursue.