Now that the great state of New York has fully legalized cannabis and future participants are already applying for business licenses, the Workforce Development Institute and Cornell University have teamed up to form the Cannabis Workforce Initiative (CWI).
As state regulators begin the licensing process, members of this joint effort are seeking to connect people interested in joining the industry, especially those applying for social equity licenses, with the educational and training resources they’ll need to be successful.
How Will It Work?
The CWI initiative is developing a system of outreach and education for employers, organizations and individuals looking to get into the industry, including those with criminal records and others harmed by cannabis criminalization. Indeed, Gov. Kathy Hochul pledged $200 million to support social equity applicants.
Start With A Survey
According to a national survey undertaken by the CWI to determine possible stakeholder needs, out of the nearly 100 respondents, 60% said they either plan to or are already operating in New York and eight in 10 said they want to learn about state and federal labor and employment laws. The survey also suggests that dispensary positions will be the most in-demand jobs, followed by cultivators and inventory specialists and that customer service will be the most in-demand skill.
“Our work is very exciting. We are participating in the building of a new major industry in New York state, one that has the potential to be a game-changer for New York’s citizens and communities who have suffered due to the criminalization of cannabis and other workers who often work in substandard conditions for little pay,” said Esta Bigler of Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations who is heading up the legal education portion of CWI.
Workforce Development Institute’s executive director, Amy Desjardins, said her team is also encouraged by the survey results.
“It is clear that, while there is general support for New York’s social equity goals among employers, there is also a role for CWI to fill as the bridge between social equity job seekers and the industry’s high-road employers,” Desjardins said.
“Our aim is to help New York state make good on its promise of restorative justice in the adult-use cannabis industry. Along with our ongoing research and outreach, this survey is a key tool to make sure we’re hearing from the industry directly.”