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INFLUENCE OF WORD-PROCESSING AND SHORTHAND SKILLS ON PROFESSIONAL SECRETARIES’ FUNCTIONS IN MODERN OFFICES IN NORTH-WEST GEO-POLITICAL ZONE, NIGERIA
The study was carried out to determine the Influence of Word-Processing and Shorthand Skills on professional secretaries functions in modern offices in North West of Nigeria. The major objective was to determine the influence of word-processing and shorthand skills on professional secretaries functions in modern office in North West, Nigeria. Four specific objectives, four research questions were drawn and corresponding four null hypotheses were formulated. Descriptive survey research design was adopted for the study. The population was 246 made up of 90 Directors and 156 professional secretaries‟ drawn from the Federal Ministries of the six states selected for the study. One hundred and sixty-nine (169) respondents were purposively selected as sample for the study. Questionnaire was used as instrument for data collection. Frequency and percentages were used to analyze the demographic data, while weighted mean was used to answer the four research questions. Simple Linear Regression was also used to test the null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. The study found that word-processing and shorthand skills have significant influence on professional secretaries‟ functions in modern offices in North West, Nigeria. Among other findings was that shorthand skills have significant influence on professional secretaries‟ communication skill in modern offices in North-West. The study concluded that with the introduction of modern technological equipment in modern offices in North-West, professional secretaries‟ with word-processing and shorthand skills still functions effectively in the modern offices in North-West, Nigeria. It was recommended among others, that seminars and workshops should be organized by different organizations to enlighten the public especially the executives, employers of labour and even professionals on the importance of word-processing and shorthand skills, and to correct the misconception by the public that shorthand skill is of no significance to professional secretaries‟ functions, despite the introduction of modern technological equipment.
1.1 Background to the Study
The office of today is dynamic and challenging. The advances in technology are rapidly changing today‟s modern businesses around the globe and have seriously affected every aspect of office work. As the traditional office moves towards automation, professional secretaries‟ are required to develop their professional competencies in order to work effectively in the modern office. Word-processing and shorthand are the major skill subjects in business education in Nigerian tertiary institutions. Nwogwugwu (2002) noted that the introduction of sophisticated technological equipment with the new management techniques have changed old work habits, thereby resulting in complete job resignation and acquisition of new skills. Word-processing and shorthand are the core courses to students specializing in secretarial profession.
Over the years, advancement in office technology and new management styles have brought about changes to the office environment. Professional Secretaries have undergone rapid transformation, moving from working in their age-old traditional role of taking notes in shorthand, transcribing on manual typewriter to new and multiple roles of using electronic, computer and recording devices. The National Board for Technical Education (2004) listed the following as traditional roles performed by professional secretaries: typing correspondence, taking dictation and transcribing dictated materials into a mailable document, arranging files and various information into appropriate headings, answering phone calls and attending to visitors, making travelling arrangements for the boss and arranging meetings, booking hotel accommodation.
These traditional functions of professional secretaries according to Aromolaran
(2003) and National Board for Technical Education (2004) deduced the original functions of
professional secretaries to include writing of shorthand using pencil, and reporter‟s book and transcribing the same written shorthand into longhand using manual typewriter as their performed in a traditional office setting.
According to Norris (2008), the work of professional secretaries has shifted to a more management/administrative functions in addition to their traditional secretarial functions. This is because of the introduction and use of new technologies in the office. Professional Secretaries‟ are assuming more and newer responsibilities, and are expected to function at higher levels of administration and management, with higher remunerations. The traditional secretarial skill of taking notes in shorthand and transcribing on manual typewriter is fading away. Emphasis has shifted to storing, editing and retrieving minutes of meetings and correspondences with the use of computer and electronic typewriter due to automated equipment in offices (Apkan, 2000). Thus, professional secretaries are considered as the “mirror” through which an organization sees.
In keeping with the changes in secretarial job contents, professional secretaries for several years have usually been assessed by means of other work-related criteria, especially in the ministries. For example, proficiency in information and technology applications management and administrative skills are now prominent assessment criteria. On the other hand, the assessment and placement of professional secretaries employed in the public sector are now based on ability to take notes/minutes in shorthand. As stated by Igbinola (2003), office education or office technology management curricula have been reviewed and updated over the years, to keep secretaries abreast of new work pattern and emerging information and modern office gadgets. Gradually, new equipment and machines have replaced the old ones, making work more efficient and reliable. This tends to be the modern way of office organization which uses new technologies such as the electronic typewriter, computer to make office work move faster and more accurate. Given the changes in a modern office due
to automation, various sophisticated gadgets and facilities, the trend of change in the work load of a secretary has become easily visible. Today, the story has indeed changed due to office automation. The introduction of sophisticated office technological equipment like word processors and other information technology resources coupled with new management techniques have completely changed old work habits in offices and triggered off a new business orientation thus making moribund the older methods of business transaction.
The changing skill based the emergence of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) education degree programmes requirement and accrediting agency standards are a few of the driving forces behind the need to assess the need for word-processing and shorthand skill by professional secretaries‟. This is enforced by the fact that many technical changes has indicated.
As a result, modern office equipment, which gives the secretary the opportunity to increase his efficiency, abound. Many office functions and secretarial duties that were previously done manually have been mechanized. Thus, the diversities of these office technologies require the secretary to possess new skills and sub-skills to enable him/her to be relevant in modern offices.
The consequence of global development in the modern offices calls for corresponding development of new skills by Nigerians professional secretaries. To achieve such competencies namely; of word-processing skills, which explains why ICT-based courses are offer at both the National and Higher National Diploma levels in the Polytechnics in Nigeria. Word-processing skill, particularly the acquisition of speed and accuracy, using touch rather than‟ hunt and peck‟ approach. Furthermore, it is of interest to note that the contemporary global labour selection requirements for professional secretaries give emphasis on speed and accuracy in word-processing. In a study to determine from job vacancies advertisements, the speed and accuracy requirements in the UK, has the following findings (Ober, 2011). Most
advertisements do not require a predetermined typing speed, instead using such phrases as “competent typing skills‟ or „proficient in typing and Microsoft Office‟. The most common speed requirements (mode) were 60 wpm, accounting for 43 percent of the listings. The average speed requirement (mean) was 58 wpm.
Job applicants who type at least 40 wpm would qualify for 10 percent of the positions and listed minimum typing speeds, those typing 50 wpm would qualify for 18 percent of the positions. These findings are very relevant to the Nigerian labour market requirement.
Fadare (2004) views skill as “expertness, aptitude and competences appropriate for a particular job, it has to do with expert knowledge and creative reasoning to a level of mastery”. In order to attain these skills, the individual needs to acquire basic training or knowledge levels related to the task to be performed whether through formal, informal or combination of the two. Boytzis (2010) defines skill as the ability to demonstrate a system and sequence of behaviour that is functionally related to attaining a goal.
Word processing is a name used to describe the system used for preparing documents (for example, letters, memoranda and reports) that are composed mainly of words. Word processor, in the researcher‟s view is a machine that is more sophisticated than the typewriter, which is used in typing, editing, storing and printing all types of documents. Most computer systems operate word-processing package of some kinds. This has rapidly replaced typing as a method of producing documents, although some works are still carried out on typewriters. Bohl in Chukwumezie and Ndinechi (2006) says “word processing was developed as a means of raising office productivity.”
In view of the variables discussed, one could say that professional secretaries with word-processing and shorthand skills tend to stand better chance to function effectively in today‟s modern offices. This is the basis of the background to this study, Influence of word-processing and Shorthand Skills on professional Secretaries function in modern offices in the
North-West Geo-political Zone, Nigeria. However, the issue still remains that the researcher has no clear idea of the level of competencies which her study population has; this there reuse the problem.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
As indicated in the background of the study, the worry of this study is to establish what level of influence word processing and shorthand skills that is, the subject have in order to positively influence their work performance in modern secretaries functions in modern offices. In other words, in view of her inability to find studies on this subject matter and her inability to come by any similar work through her personal search in a number of related polytechnics in the area, the researcher hereby wants to know what influence word processing and shorthand skills which have to do with issue of what the problem of the study should be. Hence professional secretaries‟ skill competence has influence on the functions of Nigerian professional secretaries in modern offices in North West Geo-political Zone, Nigeria.
At this point, the research is interested in knowing whether professional secretaries‟ shorthand skill e.g in developing minutes of meeting has any bearing with their communication skills. These are the major issues this research work has been able to find out.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The major objective of this study is to determine the influence of word-processing and shorthand skills on professional secretaries functions in the modern offices in North West Zone, Nigeria. Specifically, the study intends to
- determine the extent to which the students word processing skill influence their functioning in an automated office.
- determine the extent to which the student‟s shorthand skill influence their effective functioning in a modern automated office.
- determine the extent to which the student‟s communication skill influence professional secretaries‟ effective functioning in an automated office.
- determine the extent to which shorthand skill influence professional secretaries communication skill in automated offices.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were raised by the researcher to guide this study.
- To what extent does possession of word-processing skill influence professional secretaries‟ competence in modern offices?
- To what extent does possession of shorthand skill influence professional secretaries‟ functions in modern offices?
- To what extent does possession of communication skill influence professional secretaries‟ competence in modern offices?
- To what extent does possession of shorthand skill influence professional secretaries‟ communication skill in modern offices?
1.5 Null Hypotheses
In line with the research questions, the following null hypotheses were formulated:
- Word-processing skill has no significant influence on professional secretaries‟ competence in modern offices.
- Shorthand skill has no significant influence on professional secretaries‟ functions in modern offices.
- Communication skill has no significant influence on professional secretaries’ competence in modern offices.
- Shorthand skill has no significant influence on professional secretaries’ communication skill in modern offices.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be of immense benefit to the followings: organizations, institutions, students, lecturers and curriculum planners. The findings of this study will go a long way to correct the misconception and belief of many organizations and institutions that word-processing and shorthand skills have no influence on the practicing secretaries‟ in modern offices in North West geo-political zone, Nigeria.
This study will be of academic significance to intending students who will become professional secretaries to take their studies very serious and put word-processing and shorthand in right perspective.
Lecturers will find it useful because it will bring about the enlightenment and awareness that is needed, as to whether word-processing and shorthand courses are still relevant or not, thereby making them find a way of updating their knowledge and skills in the most appropriate and relevant technology.
The result of this study will be of immense benefit to curriculum planners and implementers, it will help them in their job of curriculum review and implementation as it concerns shorthand and word-processing in our schools system. The curriculum planners will also come to know the fact as to whether or not there is an existing relationship between word-processing and shorthand skills and secretaries functions in offices. Finally, it will be of benefit to future researchers who may wish to carryout researches in the related areas.
It is the intention of the researcher to publish the finding of this work in respected journals in the country after the programme. This is to enable beneficiaries mentioned to have access to information that are vital to them.
1.7 Basic Assumptions
For the purpose of this study, it was assumed that;
- Secretaries in modern offices, in the North-West geo-political zone, Nigeria have the background knowledge/training in word-processing and shorthand.
- Poor mastery of both shorthand and word-processing skill is associated with ineffectiveness of secretaries‟ in modern offices.
1.8 Delimitation of the Study
The scope of the study was delimited to directors and professional secretaries‟ in Federal Ministries in North West Geo- Zone Nigeria; this is because word-processing and shorthand skills proficiency are criteria usually used for selection and promotion of secretaries‟ as well as having same mode of office operations based on these conditions. It was also delimited to the following states: Kaduna, Kano, Katsina Jigawa, Sokoto and Kebbi States which were chosen because they were within the same geo-political zone with same characteristics that represented a reasonable number of professional secretaries and directors in the North- West geo-political zone, Nigeria. Professional secretaries were chosen for this study because they use word-processing and shorthand skills in order to function effectively in their job.