Selecting a Cannabis Training Program
by Shannon Kloet, Director Training Services
Selecting a Training Program
Selecting and investing in training can be a challenging, and often confusing, proposition. Common questions that potential students will ask are: Will this training result in a job? What salary can I expect at the end of it? Will my training be recognized? These are all valid questions and something that we took into consideration when developing our training programs at Cannabis Compliance.
So how do you go about determining what is the right training for you? Does having an accredited training program automatically mean that you can take the guesswork out of the selection process? Shouldn’t all training programs be accredited? In short, no.
We’ve been asked countless time if our courses and programs are accredited. We’ve also been asked just as many times if Health Canada certifies them. Let us clear up a few assumptions with respect to accreditation and/or certification.
Firstly, accreditation. People assume that all courses and/or programs taught by public post-secondary institutions are accredited programs. For the most part they are, but not always. The institution itself is accredited but this does not necessarily mean that all their programs and/or courses are certified because not all of them go through the entire curriculum development approval process. In order for their curriculum to be awarded a credential that is certified requires that these institutions have their program approved by the Ministry that oversees them and their curriculum approved by either their Senate (and subsequent committees), if they are a university, or their Education Council, if they are a College.
Secondly, Health Canada. They have not publicly endorsed any private or public education or training for the cannabis space.
So why are people so hung up on “accreditation”?
People are unsure about private education. We’ve all seen the headlines, “Private English Language School Closes Overnight – Leaves Students Stranded”. Headlines like this make one leery when looking to purchase training from what are, sometimes, completely unregulated entities. But you can’t paint all private training groups with the same brush. The same can be said for publicly funded education.
Before my role at CCI, I worked in public post-secondary for over 20 years. In fact, my colleagues and I started the first Canadian cannabis courses offered at a public post-secondary institution. At the time, these courses were serving a need for people looking to get some knowledge about the cannabis industry. And, although they were offered through the university, they were not accredited. They simply couldn’t be, the industry was changing so fast we could not have kept them up-to-date if we had gone down that path.
You see, public post-secondaries are chock-full of bureaucracy. It’s intentional. As we eluded to above, there are layers (upon layers) of processes that one must go through to get curriculum approved. It is done in this fashion to ensure that rigor, consultation and a myriad of other criteria are considered in order to offer quality programming. It is this quality that the general public has come to rely on. However, this also means that they are often painfully slow to respond to changing environments.
Consider a 4-year degree program. We’ve heard of a few institutions considering this type of education. Typically, it would take a minimum of 2 years to develop the curriculum, and another 4 years to graduate a student. When you put that in context of the cannabis industry, it’s the equivalent of a lifetime. When I look back to when I started working in the space in 2015 as compared to today, it looks nothing like it did. So, we have to ask, what jobs are they hoping to train these students for? This industry needs knowledge, don’t get us wrong, the more the better; but it also needs people trained for jobs that are available now. We simply can’t wait 6 years for graduates to fill these positions.
We started developing cannabis programming at CCI almost a year ago, and we can say we have had many rewrites in that time as the landscape keeps evolving. If we were trying to develop these programs within a public post-secondary institution, the curriculum development gauntlet just wouldn’t allow for a timely turnaround as it takes just as long to update curriculum as it does to create it. Which isn’t a big a deal when you are working with subject matter that doesn’t change substantially year over year, but the cannabis industry is a whole different ball game.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying there isn’t huge value in the programming our fellow educators at public post-secondary institutions are developing, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. We applaud their willingness to embrace this industry and to start to move it into the mainstream. We love the thought of high school students considering the cannabis industry as a career path. It is advances like this that help to remove the stigma around cannabis that will be so important for our industry moving forward.
That said, it is our hope that more post-secondary institutions will reach out to private companies and develop partnerships that bring both industry knowledge and curriculum development expertise together.
So, what’s our point?
Our advice to students looking to get training, as we mentioned in our previous blog, is to really evaluate the training program. Is it credible? When we say credible, we are referring to how the curriculum was developed. Who was involved and how credible is their experience and knowledge? Who’s teaching the course – have they done the work, do they have the necessary skills and experience? Not all instruction is equal.
When it comes to time and money, does the investment equal the job opportunities on the other end. we’ve seen some year long training programs that result in minimum wage, high turnover positions. The return on the investment just isn’t there.
It’s important to recognize expertise. There are some great private training companies out there, we would suggest CCI is one of them, but that would be self-serving, so let’s consider Microsoft as an example. They train and certify a substantial amount of people each year and are incredibly successful at it. This really isn’t surprising, why wouldn’t they be? Who is more qualified to train on their systems than they are? We’d argue you could say the same for the cannabis industry.
For more information about CCI’s training programs, go to https://www.cannabiscomplianceinc.com/training/programs/