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