Newsletter Steven Ferry

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, March 2018, Training Path Choices

Steven Ferry

Training Path Choices

by Steven Ferry

Training at the front end of any career, and ongoing until the day we retire, at least, is a given for butlers and household or estate(s) managers today. In the old days, the only training route was on-the-job training and apprenticeship that was hands-on heavy, light on theory, and limited in scope. The results were narrowly focused manual skills and not much in the way of managerial expertise.

Today, we have two additional avenues: bricks-and-mortar butler schools providing anything from 2-8 weeks of training with varying degrees of effectiveness and for prices ranging from a couple of thousand to $15,000. The advantages include working with peers, face-to-face tutorials, and field trips, and often, preferential placement efforts upon graduation.

The other avenue, perhaps more in tune with the digital world in which we live, is online courses. Their weaknesses are the very strengths of the bricks-and-mortar schools; whereas the strengths of online courses include a significantly lower fee (typically $2,000 – $3,000 for study hours on a par with an eight-week residential course); zero costs for travel, room and board; and for those currently in the work force, neither loss of income for the trainee nor interruption of service for the employer during the training. Additionally, because more subjects are covered, the training tends to be deeper, or can certainly be made far deeper by the student taking ancillary courses locally on such as wines, cigars, flower arranging, advanced driving, firearms and security, etc.

An independent survey was conducted recently into preferred training methods, which is well worth reviewing. Key points established were:

Ø  Only about 50% of people feel they have the learning opportunities they need in their work;

Ø  People like to learn at home more than anywhere else;

Ø  If they have a choice between learning on computers, tablets, mobile phones or reading a printed document, they pick a computer. Mobile phones came last;

Ø  The preferred duration for learning is 16-30 minutes, by a very large margin;

Ø  Learning opportunities are critical to job satisfaction.

Furthermore, according to the survey results, people most desire self-paced learning and to put information into practice immediately. Anyone who has done any of the Institute’s online courses knows that’s exactly the way their Institute training was conducted. The courses were designed and written by the Chairman, who has worked for decades as an educator, specializing in cutting-edge education methods, as well as by Professor Ratliff, likewise an educator for decades.

Where an employer is paying for the training (as opposed to self funding), a visit to the estate by Institute personnel at the conclusion of the training can ensure full application of the materials and certainty on the part of the trainee, which are, after all, the ultimate purposes of any training.

Bricks-and-mortar schools and online courses appeal to different groups with different needs, goals, and barriers, so one cannot say that one is better than the other: only that it is a blessing for the profession that we have choices.

Even the old hands-on training on the job is still available in a few stately homes and such as Buckingham Palace for those who want authentic and traditional training. Certainly in combination with the other two forms of training, they are valuable experience and CV/resume builders.