Air hostesses to prison officers: Co-op Funeralcare celebrates diversity as it welcomes 2,500th apprentice

04 March 2019

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  • Co-op Funeralcare recruited 30-40 apprentices every month in 2018
  • Only national funeral provider to offer a funeral apprenticeship
  • Co-op on track to welcome 400 new apprentices in 2019
  • The apprenticeship is often taken up by those looking for a career change

Having exceeded its target of recruiting an apprentice per day in 2018, Co-op Funeralcare is celebrating its 2,500th recruit, who turned to Funeralcare as a second career after spending over 20 years as a civil servant.

The apprenticeship has attracted a diverse range of applicants over the past six years, drawing in people from all walks of life. In the past year alone, an ex-holiday rep, prison officer and an actress have all joined Co-op Funeralcare as it proves to be the chosen career for those wanting a new and rewarding challenge.

In addition to welcoming those from all backgrounds, Co-op’s apprentices currently range from age 21 to71 years old.

As Co-op Funeralcare’s 2,500th apprentice, 48 year old Paula from Yorkshire spent two decades working for the government before a relocation sparked the decision to move professions.

Having spent her career as an Immigration Officer working closely with people from all walks of life, Paula knew she had the caring nature and organisational skills needed to join Co-op Funeralcare’s apprenticeship programme.

The UK’s leading funeral director saw an intake of 30 to 40 new recruits every month in 2018, resulting in approximately 2,500 apprentices joining since launching the programme in 2013.

Furthermore, the funeral provider is on track to continue to recruit the same number of apprentices again throughout 2019.

Commenting on her new role, Paula said:

"After 20 years as a civil servant I never thought I’d be working in the funeral industry, but the career change was the best decision I’ve made. As an apprentice, every day I get to support families through what can be the hardest time of their lives and I never knew a job could be so rewarding."

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, People Director for Co-op Funeral and Life Planning added:

"Working within the funeral industry can be an extremely rewarding and satisfying career. Our apprenticeship programme proves that and we’re still attracting such a strong pool of applicants almost six years since the launch.

"It’s a great achievement for the business to welcome our 2,500th apprentice on board. Our intention has always been to provide people from all backgrounds with the opportunity to develop a worthwhile career in funerals. Providing they possess empathy, ambition, excellent service and organisational skills, we can teach everything else on the job."

Co-op Funeralcare delivers the apprenticeship in partnership with People Plus and remains the only UK national Funeral Director to offer an apprenticeship in Funeral Operations and Services.


Notes to editors:

A wide range of apprentice case studies are available upon request, including:

  • Emily, 26 year old holiday rep turned funeral director from Bristol
  • Michael, a 54 year old from Weymouth who used to work checking in luggage at the airport before signing up to a funeralcare apprenticeship with Co-op
  • Karen from Liverpool had two career passions – one to work as an actress and one to work in the funeral industry. After trying her hand in acting, appearing in Brookside and a number of films, Karen joined us as an apprentice
  • Sharon, 56, worked as an NHS nurse for over 30 years before retiring. After getting itchy feet she needed a new challenge and joined Co-op Funeralcare in Blackburn as an apprentice

Media Contact:

Sarah Pyatt: or 07850 002 312
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About the Co-op

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives and 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 employees and an annual turnover of over £9 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.