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, firearm and security, etc.
An independent survey was conducted recently into preferred training methods, which is well worth reviewing. Key points established were:
- Only about 50% of people feel they have the learning opportunities they need in their work;
- People like to learn at home more than anywhere else;
- 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;
- The preferred duration for learning is 16-30 minutes, by a very large margin;
- 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 online courses offered by the International Institute of Modern Butlers, knows that’s exactly the way their Institute training was conducted. The courses were designed and written by the Chairman, Prof. Steven Ferry, 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.
Steven Ferry, an English butler trained in London, established the first butler guild in modern times (International Guild of Traditional Butlers in 1990) and wrote the basic manual on how to butle at the same time (The British Butlers’ Bible). He has since published several more books and tens of articles on and for the profession—campaigning to move it from the 19th Century into the 21st Century, without losing its identity along the way. In 2004, he founded the International Institute of Modern Butlers at the request of peers, to set and raise standards for the profession. As its Chairman, he oversees the operations of its offices and trainers around the world and personally trains butlers and other staff on the butler model of service. Prior to working as a butler, he was a teacher and worked in the non-profit sector in various capacities. He has over 20 books published, as well as hundreds of articles & photographs for major US publishers and corporations. Learn more about Steven’s online British Butler training via their website: http://www.modernbutlers.com/