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The cannabis industry is booming in California, which means there are opportunities for community college students to find employment across multiple skill sets and sectors. This spring, faculty and administrators have the chance to see those opportunities firsthand on the Canna-Bus Educational Tour.
The tours are organized by Regional Directors in the Bay Area for Business and Entrepreneurship, Retail, Tourism and Hospitality, and Agriculture, Water & Environmental Technology. They include tours of three businesses in different parts of the cannabis industry — a growing site, an extraction and manufacturer of cannabis products, and a dispensary.
Xavier Nazario, Regional Director for Business and Entrepreneurship, said he was motivated to organize the tour after seeing the potential the industry can offer to students if it’s incorporated into the college curriculum.
“This is an area that students are interested in and that’s part of the reason why we wanted to have this tour,” Nazario said. “We want to educate faculty and administrators so it’s in their minds when they are creating curriculum. We want to get the conversation going and embrace the idea that this industry is here to stay, and we need to support its workforce needs.”
Fred Sconberg, Regional Director for Agriculture, Water & Environmental Technologies, said the cannabis industry will continue to grow over the next decade and impact nearly every sector in the community college system.
“The industry will require job skills from many different sectors: agriculture for indoor and sun-grown production, advanced manufacturing for extraction, distribution via logistics and transportation, retail for sales to consumers, culinary for tasting experiences and inclusion within eatables, biotechnology for testing and analysis and health for the medicinal benefits,” Sconberg said.
Eli Melrod, founder of Solful Dispensary, one of the stops on the tour, said he looks for new hires that have experience in hospitality, rather than experience in cannabis specifically. Solful has its own internal training program that covers the industry.
“Finding candidates who have studied retail and hospitality is crucial to the success of our dispensary because even though it's cannabis, the skills they've learned in business courses definitely apply,” Melrod said.
Audrey Le Baudour, Regional Director in Retail, Hospitality and Tourism, said it’s important for students and faculty in that sector to understand the opportunities that the cannabis industry can provide.
“Clearly, the foundation of many of these emerging cannabis opportunities for our students require a strong base only found through education and experience in retail, hospitality, and tourism,” Le Baudour said.
Past Canna-Bus tour attendees appreciated the exposure to the full product lifecycle, the opportunity to meet industry professionals, and the chance to talk with each other about how community college can best support the industry’s workforce needs.
The next Canna-Bus tour on March 6 is completely booked, however you can still sign up for the April 3rd tour. For more information and to register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/canna-bus-educational-tour-a-study-of-sonoma-countys-hemp-industry-registration-84668031361