From education to employment

Co-op Funeralcare: Apprenticeships with a Difference

Co-op’s 1500th apprentice, 68 year-old Detective Sergeant, Robert Brown

The UK’s leading funeral director saw an intake of over 30 new apprentices every month in 2017, resulting in more than 400 apprentices joining every year, since launching the programme in 2013. Furthermore, the funeral provider is on track to continue to recruit the same number of apprentices again this year.

The apprenticeship has attracted a diverse range of applicants over the past five years, drawing in people of all ages and from all walks of life. From classical musicians to plumbers and police men, Funeralcare is often the chosen career for those wanting a new and rewarding challenge. Co-op Funeralcare has even seen a husband and wife join as apprentices.

In 2016, Co-op Funeralcare celebrated its 1500th apprentice and in 2017 hit the 2000th landmark. Co-op’s 1500th apprentice was 68 year-old Detective Sergeant, Robert Brown. Robert from Canterbury took up the role after a 30 year career in the police force, his most recent role being Detective Sergeant.

Commenting on his role Robert said:

“I can honestly say there is no other job I’d rather be doing. After a 30 year stint with the police, I did wonder how I would find working in funerals, but I love it. I only wish I’d done it sooner.”

Supporting this transition, the programme is designed to provide those embarking on a career in funerals with high quality, industry focussed and nationally recognised qualifications.

Karen Seth, Director of HR – Funeral & Life Planning at Co-op added:

“Working within the funeral industry is an extremely rewarding and satisfying career. Five years since launch, we’re still attracting such a strong pool of applicants and we’re confident we’ll continue to do so.

“Our intention has always been to provide people from all walks of life with the opportunity to develop a worthwhile career in funerals. Providing they possess compassion, empathy, excellent service and organisational skills, we can teach everything else on the job.”

Co-op Funeralcare delivers the apprenticeship in partnership with Learndirect and remains the only UK national Funeral Director to offer an apprenticeship in Funeral Operations and Services, following its launch in 2013 incorporating a QCF Level 2 and a QCF Level 3 in Funeral Operations and Services (formerly known as NVQ).

Emma, 36 from Cornwall, Funeral Director. After 7 years working with the most dangerous and prolific young offenders in Plymouth as part of the Youth Offending Team, Emma went on to work for a local charity, developing a bereavement group. This sparked Emma’s ambitions to support her community and led her to Co-op Funeralcare’s apprenticeship programme. She started as a Funeral Services Operative and is now doing her Level 3 apprenticeship as a Funeral Director. 

Commenting on her role Emma said:

‘’Having worked with young people for the past 14 years, I came to realise that what I really enjoyed about my role was meeting people from different backgrounds and being able to guide them through difficult times. My career in funeralcare is extremely rewarding, the best part about it is knowing I’m making a difference to people’s lives at what can be an incredibly hard time.’’

Husband and wife apprentices Seeing Emma’s move into funeralcare, her husband Matthew followed suit as an apprentice and is now a Funeral Director for Co-op in Plymouth. He previously worked in the armed forces as a navy diver and bomb disposer.

Kylie, age 28, ex-cabin attendant turned Funeral Arranger from Southampton. After spending 8 years working on a ferry going from Southampton to the Isle of Wight, Kylie decided life on the sea was no longer for her.

A bereavement in 2014 opened Kylie’s eyes to the important role of Funeral Directors which led to her applying for Co-op’s Funeralcare apprenticeship programme.

About The Co-op: The Co-op, one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, with interests across food, funerals, insurance, electrical and legal services, has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, The Co-op operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 colleagues and an annual turnover of approximately £10 billion.

Home to the UK’s leading funeral provider, Co-op Funeralcare conducts almost 100,000 funerals annually across over 1,000 funeral homes. Combined with its leading legal services business, the Co-op is also a national provider of later life products and services ranging from funeral plans, through to wills and probate.

The only national funeral provider to offer a funeral apprenticeship, Co-op Funeralcare recruited over 30 apprentices every month in 2017 and are on track to welcome 400 new apprentices in 2018.

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