RELEVANCE OF SHORTHAND SKILLS TO SECRETARIAL DUTIES IN AUTOMATED OFFICES
This study sought to establish the relevance of shorthand skills to secretarial duties in automated offices in the North East Geo-Political Zone of Nigeria. Shorthand is a skill that prepares one for an occupation as a secretary. Its many applications include taking of minutes, composing letters, report writing, recording messages and others. Technology seems to have caught up with shorthand in this era. Proponents of automated equipment in offices and the increased use of automated equipment by business executives and secretaries have promoted the assumption that, the use of shorthand skills will be phased out and modern machines and equipment would take over the role of shorthand writers. The major objective of this study was to determine the relevance of shorthand skills to secretarial duties in automated public offices in North East geo-political zone of Nigeria. The research design employed for this study was the descriptive survey research. The population for the study was one thousand two hundred (1,200) secretaries and managers. The sample size for the study was six hundred (600) comprising three hundred (300) secretaries and three hundred (300) managers in automated public institutions drawn from state establishments, federal medical centres and universities. Proportional sampling techniques was used to get equal number of secretaries and managers from both state and federal institutions in the zone. The instrument used to collect data for the study was a questionnaire. The questionnaire contained 64 items divided into seven sections; A,B,C,D,E,F and G. Section A was designed to obtain personal data of the respondents to fill in appropriately. Section B – G contains items designed to elicit data on research questions 1 – 7 respectively. Frequencies and percentages were used in presenting the bio-data of respondents. Mean and standard deviation were used to answer the seven research questions. Pearson Product Moment Correlation (PPMC) was used to test null hypotheses one to six, while independent t-test was used to test null hypothesis seven to determine the difference between the views of secretaries and managers on the relevance of shorthand skills to secretarial duties in automated offices. The null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. The findings of the study revealed among others that, shorthand skill is relevant to secretaries‘ accuracy in taking minutes. Shorthand skill is still relevant to secretaries‘ speed in taking minutes. Shorthand is relevant to secretaries‘ ability to compose correspondence. The study concluded that, shorthand skill is still relevant to all forms of secretarial duties judging by its relevance noted from the result presented in the study. The study recommended among others that, shorthand should not be expunged from the school curriculum of secretarial education at both secondary schools and post secondary institutions of learning.
1.1 Background to the Study
Over the years, advancement in office technology and new management styles have brought about changes to the office environment. Secretaries have undergone rapid transformation, moving from working in their age-old traditional role of taking notes in shorthand and transcribing on manual typewriter to new and multiple roles of using electronic, computer and recording devices. According to Norris (2008), the work of secretaries has shifted to a more management/administrative function in addition to their traditional secretarial functions. This is as a result of the introduction and use of new technologies in the office. Secretaries are assuming more and newer responsibilities, and are expected to perform at higher levels of administration and management, with higher remunerations. The traditional secretarial skills of taking notes in shorthand and transcribing on manual typewriter is fading away. Emphases 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 (Akpan, 2000).
In keeping with the change in secretarial job contents, secretaries have for several years been assessed by means of other work-related criteria, especially in the private sector. For example, proficiency in information technology applications management and administrative skills are now prominent assessment criteria. On the other hand, the assessment and placement of secretaries employed in the public sector are still based on ability to take notes/minutes in shorthand.