|SIAS Introduces first in-house assessor for Funeral Standards
We talk to Greg Preece…
In recent years, the funeral industry has undergone significant changes, with a growing emphasis on personalisation and meeting the unique needs of grieving families. With this evolution comes the need for standardised training and qualifications for funeral professionals. In this interview, we speak with Greg Preece, the first in-house assessor at SIAS, about the importance of funeral apprenticeships and the role SIAS plays in maintaining industry standards.
Thank you for joining us Greg, can you start by telling us about you and your background…
“I started my career in the funeral industry over two decades ago. Starting at the bottom, sweeping floors and making tea, and worked my way up to become an area manager for various firms. I worked with different types of funeral services, from small countryside family businesses to large city-based firms dealing with multicultural funerals and repatriations.
“I joined SIAS a couple of months ago and I’m delighted to be their first ever in-house assessor with responsibility for the funeral standards we end-point assess which cover three main roles – funeral operative, funeral arranger, and funeral director.”
Why are apprenticeship standards so important in this sector?
“Over the past 15 to 20 years, I’ve witnessed significant changes in the funeral industry. Funeral services have become more personalised, focusing on celebrating the life of the deceased and meeting the specific wishes of the family. This shift means funeral professionals must adapt to new trends, such as using picture coffins, eco-friendly options, and tailoring the funeral experience to reflect the individuality of the person being honoured. It’s so important that we set standards to ensure these wishes are implemented with care and professionalism.
“Most people are quite surprised to hear that anyone can open a funeral home without formal qualifications or training if they so wish. That means that with an average of 69 deaths occurring per hour in the UK, it is crucial to establish and uphold industry-wide standards to ensure the best possible service for grieving families. Funeral apprenticeships provide an avenue for training and professional development, guaranteeing that funeral professionals possess the necessary skills and knowledge to handle this sensitive task with care and compassion.”
Having joined SIAS recently, what are your immediate priorities?
“The three standards we’re assessing are relatively new standards for the funeral sector and my immediate plans involve ensuring the criteria and questions used for assessment are comprehensive and applicable to all funeral professionals. The goal is to strike a balance that suits both small and large firms, creating a national standard that promotes professionalism and quality across the board.
“We are currently focused on working with the Co-op but over time we’re looking to expand our services into other organisations. We’d like to collaborate with different funeral businesses to ensure industry-wide adoption of the apprenticeship standards.
“The funeral industry is unique and requires hands-on experience to truly understand its intricacies. Not everyone can handle the emotional and cultural demands of the job without firsthand experience. That’s why I believe having knowledgeable assessors is crucial for setting and maintaining industry standards.”
Working in the funeral industry isn’t necessarily top of mind for many young people… how do you make the sector more appealing?
“It’s true that a career in the funeral industry may not be an obvious choice for everyone but it does have its unique aspects and vast opportunities. The industry provides a wide range of experiences, allowing funeral professionals to work with diverse individuals and cultures. The need for adaptability, empathy, and attention to detail makes it an interesting and fulfilling career path for those who seek variation and stability.”
For more information on the Funeral Director Standard visit HERE.
For more information on the Funeral Team Member Standard visit HERE.