With NJDOL funding, Rowan to lead retail cannabis worker training apprenticeship

New Jersey is developing one of the first pilot apprenticeship programs in the nation dedicated to training workers in the cannabis industry.

The goal of the program is to educate and train workers to help cannabis businesses in New Jersey thrive, and to build pathways for employees, particularly those in marginalized communities, according to a memorandum of understanding between Rowan University and the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development that was signed last week.

Partners in the Cannabis Apprenticeship Training Initiative include the NJDOL, Rowan, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 360, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, Rowan College of South Jersey, the Gloucester County Workforce Development Board and Loud Wellness Inc. of Glassboro.

Through $325,000 in funding from the NJDOL, the program will develop a cohesive curriculum to provide industry-specific training and highly skilled employees to work in the growing cannabis retail field.

Ali Houshmand. (File photo)

“Through this partnership, we will develop degrees, from preapprenticeship through graduate degrees, for citizens who will be poised to make an immediate impact on the cannabis retail industry. We will work with our partners to meet the needs of employers while providing pathways to sustainable employment opportunities,” said Rowan University President Ali Houshmand.

While Rowan will coordinate all activities and develop education and training curricula for the retail program, the university also will develop, in concert with Rowan College of South Jersey, subsequent apprenticeships for cultivation, manufacturing and distribution of cannabis.

The curriculum will be imported into the UFCW Learning Management System.

Commissioner of Labor Robert Asaro-Angelo said New Jersey is proud to lead the way in the development of a highly skilled retail cannabis workforce.

“NJDOL is proud to partner with Rowan University and other stakeholders to ensure that the expanding cannabis industry has the skilled workers it needs to grow and thrive, and, significantly, to invest in this equitable education and training program so the cannabis workforce is inclusive and diverse,” Asaro-Angelo said.

Among other duties, UFCW Local 360 and the AFL-CIO will provide apprenticeship coordinator services and ongoing program development, participate in apprentice recruitment and retention, and develop employer relationships to create apprenticeship and employment opportunities.

Rowan College of South Jersey will oversee enrollment of apprentices, track training, provide recruitment, ensure retention and provide basic skills training, assessments and industry-recognized credentials for adult learners.

The Gloucester County Workforce Development Board also will provide outreach to targeted populations, while working on recruitment, apprentice onboarding and training.

Loud Wellness Inc., a cannabis cultivator, will provide hands-on learning and technical instruction for apprentices. The business will hire some of the apprentices, according to MOU. The company is building a cultivation and manufacturing facility in Glassboro.