‘Could do better’

In today’s environment, staff training is vital and the Independent Funeral Directors (IFD) College is always on hand to help businesses and their employees.

For more than 20 years, the virtual college has been providing essential vocational training for SAIF members. Firms up and down the UK have benefited from the IFD College and, with possible industry regulation, there has never been a better time to future-proof your business.

Chris Parker, IFD College Chair, believes Independents need to be proactive in supporting staff.

Speaking exclusively to SAIFInsight, Chris said: “‘Could do better’ was always the last comment on every one of my school reports and it wasn’t until I entered the workplace, engaged in something I really wanted to do, that I understood the value of learning.

“Once I began my training as a nurse I attacked my textbooks with the vigour and enthusiasm which would have surprised every teacher I ever had. The same can be said of many people who were reluctant learners at school but will willingly embrace vocational training. Sometimes, simply being able to apply theory to an everyday task makes the learning process easier.

“We all learn in different ways and for many in this profession a more practical approach is the method that suits them best.

“At the IFD College we aim to include all abilities and all learning styles. For example, if you are comfortable with writing an essay that’s fine, but it’s also fine if you simply want to talk to your assessor and explain how you do something, either face to face or by sending in a short video clip. We will always do our best to accommodate you.

“There are still a few, dare I say it, dinosaurs dotted around this profession of ours. Those who believe that formal training is unnecessary. They take the attitude ‘I learned this business from grandad and dad so I can pass on the knowledge to my son’ or worse, ‘what if I train them and they leave and go to work for somebody else?’.

“Well, the answers are pretty simple: grandad didn’t work in the profession we have today, with all of the associated rules and regulations that we need to comply with. Times have changed and we, as professionals, need to move with them or risk losing out to our competitors. In grandad’s day we were little more than a cottage industry or a secondary occupation for the building trade. I would also add, what if you don’t train them and they do stay?

“Training your staff is a twofold benefit to your business. It shows commitment to best practice and investment in your staff. It also encourages your staff to know that you value them and are prepared to invest in them. Employees who feel valued perform better and show greater loyalty. So it’s a win-win situation.

“At the IFD College we recognise that the cost of training can be a financial burden which is why we make discounts for SAIF members and also offer training in bite sized units. Even if you can only afford to pay for one or two units a year it is vastly better than no training at all.

“Last year, we introduced Membership of the IFD College, open to all learners who have achieved the IFDC’s Certificate in funeral practice or the BIFD diploma. This encourages our students to keep learning by attending CPD events during the year. In order to be able to use the post-nominal MIFDC, we ask for a very modest 12 hours CPD a year. It is easily achievable and will say much about you, your staff and your business.

“As a child, my late father would ask me every night: ‘What have you learned today, Christine?’ I still ask myself that question every night before I sleep. Try it, you will be amazed. We begin to learn on the day we take our first breath and we only stop learning the day we take our last one. Learning is a lifetime commitment.”

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