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Cannabis Industry Growth in Canada Has Triggered Big Job Growth

Aurora's Employee Base Rose from 10 in 2015 to Now 300 and that may Double Next Year

There is a great deal of anticipation around recreational marijuana in Canada starting next year which is easily evidenced by the massive job growth in the industry. Our northern neighbor is not only trying to fill all medical marijuana demand and recreational demand, but a number of companies are exporting marijuana overseas too. Is this an example of the anticipated cannabis industry growth advocates have suggested would come?

Canada’s medical marijuana sector is continuing its blistering pace of growth, bringing with it more jobs and higher, more competitive salaries.

The industry could add another 150,000 jobs over the next couple of years, according to one estimate, and a recent survey showed that salaries are more mainstream than ever.

And while rising wages are helping some well-capitalized companies lure people from mature industries, the pace of hiring is expected to create growing pains for other businesses.

Hiring is picking up speed because Canada’s licensed producers are scaling up their operations to supply the medical cannabis market and prepare for the launch of next year’s recreational market.

“As an industry, we’re not only in a growth phase, but we’re also scaling up for legalization in the middle of next year,” said Cam Battley, executive vice president of Aurora Cannabis.

“I expect employment in this sector to increase extremely rapidly over the next 12 to 24 months.”

Aurora employed fewer than 10 people at the beginning of 2015. It now has over 300 employees in its fold, and that could more than double over the next 12 months.

The company’s market valuation recently surpassed 1 billion Canadian dollars ($822 million) on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Rising salaries

As employment rises, so do salaries.

“Leading companies in our sector like Aurora are no longer startups. We’re in a growth phase,” Battley said. “As a result, salaries for our companies are becoming competitive with other leading industries such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.”

A survey by Calgary, Alberta-based staffing firm Cannabis At Work demonstrates as much. It found that the average maximum base salary for five of the highest-paying jobs in the industry were:

The survey involved companies that are worth a combined CA$3 billion and employ over 700 people.

It also found the average maximum base salaries for cultivation technicians, processing assistants and administrative assistants were CA$42,800, CA$46,000 and CA$51,000, respectively.

Industry executives say the salaries are an indication people are joining the medical marijuana sector from a range of mature industries.

“What surprised me the most was how mainstream the salaries seemed,” said Alison McMahon, Cannabis At Work’s founder and CEO. “The salaries are comparable to roles in other industries.”

McMahon expects the cannabis industry to add 150,000 jobs over the next couple of years.

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