Mon | Jul 22, 2019

Gleaner Editors' Forum | No training school for 'dead man' handlers

Published:Monday | July 16, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Certified funeral directors and embalmers are of the view that the absence of a training institution for persons aspiring to enter the sector is one of the main factors fuelling the growth of so-called fly-by-night operators who are said to be creating a blot on the industry.

Members of the Jamaica Association of Certified Embalmers and Funeral Directors disclosed at a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week that they all received training overseas, even as they insist that those who want to handle the dead must receive training and be certified.

Currently, there are an estimated 150 uncertified operators in the funeral and embalming industry.

The obvious challenge is that a sizable percentage may find it difficult to enrol in a programme overseas because of cost and other factors.

"To my knowledge, you need two science subjects and maths and English. It's a minimum of two years (training), and is not taught in Jamaica at the moment, so the nearest place is Florida," Calvin Lyn, president of the association, told The Gleaner.




Still, there have been several attempts at developing a programme for funeral directors and morticians locally, but issues such as scheduling and accreditation have stifled those efforts.

"The Montego Bay Community College started something two years ago. We were asked to lecture, [but] we declined because they are not linked with any accredited institution in the US, Canada, and anywhere else to certify, so it is on hold," Lyn explained.

But even as that remains a challenge facing the industry, at least one member of the association is not convinced that the untrained operators are particularly interested in being trained and certified.

"I am sure when a school is up and running, a lot of them won't go to school," Patrick Williams, a vice-president of the association, said.

"They will find a way around going to school," he added, emphasising how crafty these so-called operators can get to make a living off the thriving industry.