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SECRETARIAL JOB-TASKS REQUIRED IN MODERN BUSINESS OFFICES AND IMPLICATION ON SECRETARIAL EDUCATION CURRICULUM IN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

Secretarial Education is a tool for alleviating poverty. This

means that a secretarial graduate that is well traipsed, well equipped

with technological knowledge could be employed and could also be

on his/her own and as well be an employer of labour. Secretarial

Education is useful to modern business offices both private

organization, governmental organization and Non-Governmental

Organization (NGOs) in terms of employment opportunity, job

creation and self-reliance. Job-tasks can include many varied duties

– like research, typing, producing flyers, filing, transcription,

screening telephone calls, appointments, liaising with clients and

other staff members, attending meetings, composing of letters,

making travel arrangement, supervising, training staff etc. The major

role or tasks the secretary performs is to provide assistance to a

manager or managers (Amoor, 2009).

The Modern Business Office is the office gazetted with

information and communication technology devoid of the traditional

way or manual way of performing tasks. In modern world, no

business or office can succeed without the Information and

Communication Technology. It makes work to be done faster,

clearer, and more accurate than the traditional method of using

typewriters, duplicating machine, cutting of stencil, delay in

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transmission of message, filing in cabinets in terms of storing

information etc. but in modern business office Information and

communication Technology had taken over every burden. Changes

as a result of offices automation, has brought about new methods in

carrying out functions performed by Secretaries in organizations. At

the centre of the new trends in the office are the office information

systems and these new trends in technological innovations place

greater responsibilities on business educators and secretarial

education students. Secretaries in the organizations of yesterday

dealt with papers, worked with manual machines, relied on postal

services for external communications and kept the office records in

files and cabinets. Nowadays, secretaries do not deal with papers or

carry out their duties manually because all office tasks are handled

with electronic and telecommunication gadgets (Ntukidem, 2000).

The aim of educating someone is to develop the desirable

qualities in him or her. Education is a process of enabling individuals

to live as useful and acceptable members of the society. This is why

Denga (2001) describes an educated man as a refined gentleman or

gentlewoman, socially, morally, intellectually, physically and

aesthetically. For a person to be seen as refined, one needs to

demonstrate some basic competencies that would enable him/her

function effectively as a producer and consumer of goods and

services. There is no doubt some fundamental societal norms and

values are basic requirements for a person to survive in the society.

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Therefore, the skills, attitudes and knowledge required to prepare

such persons for effective performance in chosen career is

education.

A Business Educator has the sole responsibility of producing

learning experiences that could be acquired through a sound

Business Education Curriculum. In line with this, Agumuo (1997)

says, there is generally increase in complexity and world wide

interaction of business, industry and numerous technologies and the

changes they have brought have affected the way things are done in

the office. These technologies include the facsimile machines,

interactive technologies, Internet, Electronic Mail (e-mail), Voice

mail, teleconferencing and other new information systems. These

innovations in office technology have almost completely altered the

nature, environment, content, tasks and competencies in Secretarial

Education all over the world.

Increasing number of business executives expect their

secretaries to function as administrative assistance who can relief

them of their numerous routine and specialized tasks. The secretary

has always been a vital link between those who make management–

level decisions and those who react and implement the decisions.

Agumuo (1997) also adds that due to the dynamic nature of the

office, task of the secretaries has continued to assume added

dimension. Agumuo (1997) observes that for large organization

today, the secretary can lend administrative support to Executive by

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handling long time consuming tasks such as compiling and

organizing information for report and long memorandum, maintaining

confidentialities, disseminating information relating to administrative

policies, researching data for presentation to be given by the

executive, composing and dictating certain letters and performing

any other duties delegated by management.

Osuala (1998) adds that, most of the activities of the office

such as accounting, mail handling, and filing, telephone switching

systems, reprographics and others are now performed by self

regulating machines. The secretary controls most of these

machines. Brussels (2007), states that secretarial task is interesting,

challenging and undergoing many changes and the changes have

made the secretarial profession even more appealing. The biggest

change of all has been to the name `Secretary’ that secretaries are

now becoming more known as “Office Professionals” and this title

indicates that the secretary’s role can be expected to include some

managerial duties. These include supervising other office workers or

administrative staff or even training staff.

Oyeyiola (2005) points out some of the tasks of a Secretary as

: Typing of memorandum, business letters and correspondence of

various kind, Handle computer/word processing related activities,

Transcribe dictated material into mail-able document, Arrange files

and various information into appropriate headings, Manage the boss

appointment diary and Act behalf of the boss.

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From the above points, it is noted that the traditional tasks

performed by the secretaries in the North-Central Nigeria differ from

the modern tasks in the same geo political zone. This therefore,

gives the background information in the context of which this study

was conducted.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Office technology and innovation have affected the way things

are done in the office. This means great transformation in the tasks

performed by Secretaries in the modern business offices such as:

Communication services, Computer operation, word processing,

Database, Excel etc. There is great concern by Business Educators

that the current National Board for Technical Education (NBTE)

curriculum and course specifications for Secretarial Education

published in 1998 no long meet the needs of the modern business

office. Nwosu (1997) views that within the period of 1990 – 1999, the

world has witnessed unprecedented innovations especially in

computer, telecommunication and micro graphic.

From observation and interaction of the researcher with some

of the Secretaries, it was observed that some of the equipment and

machines used in producing documents are obsolete and

cumbersome and also not able to meet up with the current

challenges in the offices with the global Technology of the 21st

Century. Incompetence on the part of Secretarial Education

graduates in terms of interview into white collar job. A Secretarial

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Education graduates went for an interview at National Research

Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) and could not perform

better than students from other institutions because they were

practically oriented and more acquainted with the new technologies

than those from Business Education in the North Central Nigeria.

Secretarial Education graduates are not conversant with the

operation of Internet that is; how to go online and offline and even to

send e-mail through their e-mail is difficult except with the help of an

expert or operator.

Moreso, from researcher’s interaction with Secretarial

Education graduates working in an organization it was found that

some of them were not able to operate computer because they were

adaptive to the use of typewriter which rendered their service in an

organization useless and these made their employer to look for

someone who is computer literate and acquainted with the new

technologies. Another problem observed was that Secretarial

Education teachers that is, those that found themselves in teaching

line were not able to teach computer courses effectively even to

operate computer was difficult instead they hired the services of

people from other department to take the course or that particular

subject. Browsing on the Internet is part of the new technology or

the modern things that is been done in the office today. A number of

educators cannot browse except to go to the Café and look for

assistance of the operators there. Hence there is this problem of

incompetence in using and teaching computer courses or subject.

And one of the major problems militating against the Secretarial

Education at all levels in the North-Central Nigeria is inadequate

manpower.

In line with the stated problems, the researcher deemed it

necessary to carry out this study in order to know the actual jobtasks

the Secretarial Education Students are required to perform in

modern business offices.

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