Undertaker surprised at forecast of shortage

Managing Director Brian Halliwell
Managing Director Brian Halliwell

A prominent Wigan funeral director has expressed surprise that concerns have been voiced over a forecast shortage of undertakers.

With a rapidly rising population and, hence, death rate, a national appeal was made this week as the Government tried to meet apprenticeship targets by 2020.

Co-op Funeralcare itself launched an apprenticeship scheme in 2013 to help

find the next generation of funeral directors.

And a promotion has been launched pointing out at that newcomers to the industry are aged between 21 and 67 and include radical career swaps from a number of different professions such as air hostess, plumber, retired police officer and more.

But Brian Halliwell, who runs Pemberton-based R Banks Funeral Directors, said he was baffled as to why anyone felt the need for a recruitment campaign.

He said: “I would not have thought there was any shortage at all. There are always people applying to us for jobs and I am not just talking about people coming from other professions but already fully qualified funeral directors.

“It would be good to have further assistance as far as apprenticeships are concerned. I have a lad on at the moment who is training as an embalmer but the Government wouldn’t help me with his apprenticeship funding. It will work out at about £8,000 for me to pay out but it will be worth it.”

Mr Halliwell said that both the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, of which Banks is a member, and National Association of Funeral Directors both run their own courses.