Budget 2016 and the Funeral Profession

By 7 April, 2016Contributors, Thoughts

Singapore can support our people to overcome challenges and seize opportunities through the funeral profession. We need to invest in the human resources in the funeral profession. We can generate jobs for our people through the funeral profession. It is time to set up a mortuary college in Singapore with the objective to be the best in the world.

The first step towards a mortuary college in Singapore is for the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Manpower to spearhead an education needs assessment of the funeral profession in Singapore. Such a project will determine the perceived needs of funeral professionals, establish a broad agreement on the knowledge and skills sets required for funeral professionals, and work out ways to bridge the gap between the knowledge and skills gaps among these professionals.

Such an education needs assessment should also seek to identify the barriers and enablers to training and career progression in the funeral profession such as the limited exposure of funeral services professionals to basic funeral management training, the lack of a standardised educational curriculum and an aversion to sharing information, and the difficulties experienced by smaller funeral firms in developing capacity.

The setting up of an accreditation board to assess and accredit funeral professionals in Singapore should be that logical next step. Funeral professionals on their part should not sit idly by. There should be concerted and pro-active efforts on the part of the funeral profession to work out a comprehensive code of conduct to regulate and curb potential excesses from arising, and in so doing, protect the interests of consumers and the long term future and viability of the entire funeral profession in Singapore.

As Singapore ramp up the numbers of healthcare professionals to meet the challenges of an ageing population in 2030, there is also a need to uplift the human resources crunch and the quality of the practitioners and professionals in the funeral profession. Singapore’s resident population aged 65 and above is projected to hit 900,000. Thus, there is an urgent need to adopt a national long-term strategic attitude towards meeting the human resource needs of the funeral profession.

At present, there is no concrete information to the number of full time, part-time and casual labour employed in the local funeral profession. Without these critical pieces of information, we are unable to bring to awareness the human resource crisis that is plaguing the profession. For such a critical institution like the funeral profession, it cannot be business as usual. There must be greater urgency and agency on the part of the stakeholders involved, in particular the state and the industry players. The status quo is just not good enough.

A mortuary college in Singapore would be a step in the right direction to ensure a steady stream of qualified practitioners and professionals for the profession. I would suggest that the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the funeral profession undertake a working / field study of the mortuary colleges in Asia and the United States, and after which key aspects from these respective case studies can be adopted and adapted to meet the needs of Singaporeans.

The Ministry would also do well to study the comprehensive curriculum of mortuary schools in the United States. After drawing references from the curriculum of mortuary colleges in Minnesota and Cincinnati, I have drawn up a curriculum that a future Singapore mortuary college can consider for its students. I hope that this would serve as a good starting point to begin the conversation for a mortuary college in Singapore and the human resource needs of the funeral profession.

P.S: You can access the full article here

About Bernard

Bernard is presently working as a researcher in the funeral profession.


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