JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRADUATE SECRETARIES IN THIS NEW MILLENNIUM
This study is aimed at identifying the extent of job opportunities available to graduate secretaries within Enugu Metropolis and to see whether there are problems militating against them. The need for the study stems form people’s wrong notion that secretarial studies is synonymous with typewriting and shorthand and therefore secretaries are mere typists and stenographers and because of this level of training they cannot hold managerial and administrative positions. Office automation has also brought it own problems while some areas are yet to be appropriate due to lack of training. The researcher’s study is to obtain the true position of things. Related literatures were reviewed and opinions of others in this respect were obtained. Working class, applicant graduate secreted from five organizations formed the population. The total number of 200 was trimmed down to a sample size of 133 using the simple random sampling technique. Structured questionnaire was used for the collection of data and analysis was done using tables and simple percentage method. The findings show that secretaries study other management and Administrative courses, apart form the professional courses. Many tertiary institutions offering secretarial studies do not have sophisticated secretary – job related machines for their training. Job opportunities exist for secretaries in set-up, oil companies and international organizations. However, in the areas of legal, medical, technical and linguistic secretary ship, employment opportunities are yet to be exploited by secretaries due to lack of training. Based on the findings, the researcher recommended a broadening of the course curriculum, equipment of tertiary institutions with modern office machines. Finally, the researcher concluded that secretary ship us lucrative course and sky is the limit of the secretary who knows.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
In the new millennium, modern business environment has witnessed a lot of sophistication in operation and organization Graduate secretaries of various cadres are very essential for the efficient and smooth running of business organization. In any organized set up or office, there has to be proper flow of communication and correct presentation for such establishment to achieve its corporate goals. In the light of the above, ideas, suggestions, thoughts, information and messages must be orderly and properly presented in printed forms. Records are to be preserved in offices in respect of the external and internal dealings of the establishment. Also visitors should be handled with sound business etiquette to create the necessary goodwill and healthy public image required of an enterprise. The professional discharge of all these functions lies with the graduate secretaries.
It takes about five to six years to train graduate in secretarial students in most Nigeria Universities and polytechnics. There are some basic academic qualifications that one has acquire before one could be eligible to be trained as a graduate secretary. These include credit level passes in English language and in four other art subjects plus a pass in Mathematics at the senior schools certificate Examinations. The graduate programme of the Nigerian polytechnics is in two tiers – the National Diploma and the Higher National Diploma disjoined by a one-year industrial work experience. However, only the later could be wisely regarded as the full graduate students. If a secretary after completing the two-year National Diploma abandons the Higher National Diploma proramme she could better be referred to as half-baked graduate in the profession. For the full graduate of secretarial studies. She has been trained up to managerial position in the office as she tool courses in industrial psychology, Business law, personnel management business communication etc. There are the Administrative secretary and company secretaries who perform very minimal secretarial functions, but are involved in managerial organization of the various establishments where they work.
Considering the kind of training given to graduate secretaries, it is evident that most office functions revolve around the secretary – handling of mails, filling and indexing taking down dictations and transcribing same, receiving and making telephone calls on behalf of the electiveness’ itinerary, arranging appointments and maintaining the diary of activities etc on behalf of her boss. For the graduate secretary to be in a better footing to execute these functions, she needs some business and personal attributes. “A sound knowledge of English language is quite relevant to a secretary who cannot express himself or herself well (orally and in writing) is worthless in the labour market”. Nweke (1986) she is the diplomat, ambassador and mirror of the organization. She needs great diplomacy and tact in handling enquires, telephone calls and visitors, hostess; qualities are indispensable in order to perform her reception duties. Discretion and confidentiality must not lack in her and these are the major ethics of the profession. Personal attributes should include good personality, integrity, pleasing temperament, initiatives, charming manners, understanding and sympathy towards others, self control and good humour in order to absorb the heat of the day work.
The introduction of sophisticated machines, the operation/manipulation of such machines such as computers, word processors, fax machines such as computers, word processors, fax machines etc the handling of information and organization of other business activities have diversified in this millennium. Moreover most of them do not have the machines and where scarcely available they are faulty. It now follows that for the graduate secretary to be efficient in the use of the machines. Post graduation training is required. Other machines such as fax, radio communication gadgets, etc are never exposed to the secretaries at school.
Job opportunities abound for graduate secretaries in the public service and big private companies such as banks, insurance and oil companies, engineering and manufacturing companies, international organizations, tertiary institutions, secondary schools and even in self employment. In the Western Countries like United State of America (USA) and Britain Secretaries are thriving in these fields. Infact a general review of the NBTE curriculum and course specification for secretarial studies by the researcher reveals in adequacy for the new millennium’s job demands on the secretaries and a poor state of affairs for the secretary of the paperless office. Time is auspicious for the graduate secretaries who are distinguished from graduates in other fields of learning for their versatility, to rise up to the challenges of the profession, tap new employment prospects and debunk the erroneous impression held by some people that secretaries are mere servants whose growth potentials on the job is unenviable and restricted to particular area.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
There is this wrong notion held by some people that secretarial studies students are synonymous with typewriting and shorthand. A trained graduate secretary is expected to be very versatile and knowledgeable in Business management and Administration because the modern secretary is looked up as a manager rather than as a typist or stenographer. The researcher has, therefore, identified inadequacy in the course content as specified by NBTE (National Board for Technical Education) from the graduate programme in secretarial studies, to equip the secretary in order to meet up with the current demand of discharge of managerial and administrative functions. Special training in areas such as technical medical liquates and legal, secretary ship has remained a mirage in Nigerian Polytechnics and universities. These areas, if appropriated, are veritable employment for secretaries.
The automaton of most office functions has created trip? Problems for the graduate secretary, viz. unprecedented surge of persons which did not train as secretaries in the tertiary institutions, into short training on the manipulation of operations of secretary job related machines, thus giving room for non-professional or quacks who today work in business offices as secretaries. In the past, secretaries are not associated with unemployment after training but today, “Unemployment gnaw many Nigerian graduate secretaries in the face” Ogunlade, (1986). The training received at school is no longer adequate for the present day job demand on the secretary. The researcher will, therefore, strain every nerve to investigate the foregoing problems, till new employment ground and discover ways of improving the abilities and level of efficiency of graduate secretaries.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
1. To ascertain the extent to which the course contents of the graduate programme is adequate for the job requirements on the graduate secretaries
2. To investigate employment prospects available to secretaries, project new employment horizon and tackle unemployment problems among graduate secretaries.
3. To determine the positive and negative effects of automation of modern office functions on the job prospects of graduate secretaries.
4. To ascertain the perception of people on the job potentials of the serving graduates secretaries, and make appropriate recommendations.
5. To evaluate the relationship between the secretary and the boss.
1.4 SCOPE/DELIMITATION OF STUDY
This research project “Job opportunities for graduate secretaries in the new millennium has been delimited t the following areas: Study of Enugu metropolis among all the other metropolitan cities in Nigeria. So many instruments for data collection are available, but only secretarial job opportunities. Descriptive Questionnaire (SJODO) will be used as the research is of descriptive nature. The working class and applicant graduate secretaries of Nigerian universities and Polytechnics will be studied (the population) amongst all the other categories of secretaries.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
At a time like this when almost all fields of human endeavour are discovering new things and new ways of doing things or practicing their professions, a study of this nature becomes very important to announce new dawn in secretarial practice. The National Board for Technical Education (MBTE), which species the course curriculum of secretarial studies in our tertiary institutions, will particularly find this study very useful. It would enlighten the Board on possible areas t be incorporated in secretarial studies, to meet up with the current job demands on graduate secretaries. Tertiary institution offering secretarial studies would see the need to acquire modern sophisticated office machines such as computers, word processors, fax machines, etc and put these machines always in good working condition and use them in training secretaries at school.
Employers of labour would realize the mistake of engaging persons who had not been trained up to graduate level as secretaries and see the benefits of engaging graduates in this field. Applicant graduate secretaries will also benefit from this study, as it would provide sources of employment information. The study will equally make up the serving secretaries to the appropriate potentials on the job, brace up to the challenges of the time in order to recreate the true image of secretarial practice which has soc much suffered misconceptions.
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. To what extent are the courses contents of the graduate programme adequate for the job requirement on the secretaries in the new millennium?
2. What areas do you think employment opportunities abound for secretaries and are there other areas you believe secretarial training in Nigeria is yet to embrace?
3. What are the positive and negative effects of automation of modern office on the job prospects of graduate secretaries?
4. What is your perception of the employment prospects and potentials of the graduate secretaries?
5. How do people see the relationship existing between secretary and her boss?
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
1. SECRETARY: A secretary has been defined by the National Secretaries Association (International) as an executive assistant who possesses a mastery of skill, who demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility without direct supervision, who exercises initiative and judgment and makes decisions within the scope of assigned authority.
2. SHORTHAND: This is a method of writing rapidly using special written symbols
3. EMPLOYMENT: This refers to occupation especially regular paid work.
4. EMPLOYEES: These are persons who work for somebody or for a company in return for wages.
5. STENOGRAPHER: This refers to one who can write shorthand.
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