07/03/2013 02:48 GMT | Updated 06/05/2013 06:12 BST

Co-op Funeral Apprenticeships Now Available

The country's first funeral apprentices are to be recruited, The Co-operative Group has announced.

The company, which is taking on 800 new apprentices this year, said it will offer nationally recognised qualifications within the funeral industry. An apprentice funeral director would have a starting salary of £18,500 HuffPost UK can reveal.

So what makes a good funeral director?

"It's more about personal qualities rather than age," a Co-op spokesperson told us. "Things like emotional maturity, empathy and compassion and a real ability to want to help and support others are key qualities for working in the funeral industry."

The new apprenticeship will be made available to all Co-operative Funeralcare new recruits and is being launched in the run-up to National Apprenticeship Week.

Group chief executive Peter Marks said: "Over the last two years we have succeeded in providing high quality, industry-focused apprenticeships to more than 1,200 young people and I believe the future of our business is now even more solid as a result.

"Sadly, we still have a situation whereby far too many young people are out of work in the UK and we believe that businesses have a real responsibility to provide new long term career opportunities so that young talent is supported, motivated and nurtured."

Apprentices will gain a QCF Level 2 and a QCF Level 3 in Funeral Operations and Services (formerly known as NVQ).