A Comparative Study Of Secretarial Profession In Nigeria Yesterday And Today

Project and Seminar Material for Secretarial Administration

A Comparative Study Of Secretarial Profession In Nigeria Yesterday And Today


This study aimed at comparing secretarial profession of yesterday and today. The problem observed in the study was that there is need to examine the productivity an deficiency of secretaries of yesterday years ad today. The need for this comparison is justified by the fact that the modern business environment is one place that has witnessed various changes especially in terms of technology. This, this study was carried out among secretaries and business executives who have secretaries working with them in IBETO GROUP OF COMPANIES, NNEWI.

In order to provide theoretical framework and background for the study, the researcher reviewed various literatures such as textbooks, journals, magazines and unpublished materials, which directly relate t the topic of study. Being guided by the review, a structured questionnaire was designed to collect data.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The emergence of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Nigeria has posed a serious challenge to all facets of the Nigerian economy. This has necessitated executive secretaries to keep abreast of the current technology as it affects office procedures and operations. For executive secretaries to contribute effectively and efficiently to the achievement of goals and objectives of the organization they have to be retrained and be given a learning environment on continuous basis in order to acquaint themselves with new challenges in the office. Notwithstanding, there is no doubt that advancement in technology has reshaped and transformed the way executive secretaries discharge their duties. The competent and effective executive secretaryship can be obtained through inservice training programmes. For in-service training programme to be adequate and sound it should consist of three phases, namely: pre-service training phase, onthe-job experience training phase, and in-service training phase (Diraso, 1992).

In-service training is a long life process in which an employee is constantly learning and adapting to new challenges of his job. This he does through reading of books, journals and magazines in his area of specialization, through discussion with colleagues and supervisors on matters concerning his profession and attending courses and conferences relating to his profession. The aims of inservice training include: to update the employees and revamp their professional knowledge, skills, and competencies and to broaden their knowledge of the core areas of specialization (Itotoh, 1996). Itotoh maintained that such areas may include: writing, editing, production and distribution of correspondence (publications), maintains all corporate books and accounts, receives and disburses fund (finance), assists in recruiting new members by responding promptly to telephone and e-mail enquires, maintains all membership, maintain all records and files all forms (regulatory) and fluent in Hyper-Text Markup Language (computer literacy).

According to Osuala and Okeke (2006), training involves providing employees with directed experience that enables them to be more effective in performing the various tasks that constitute their jobs. If effective, the training experiences result in changes in employee’s attitudes, work habits, and performance. From the above definitions, one can now say that in-service training is a means of building up skills through reading professional materials, attending conferences and workshops in order to perform excellently and to bring about high productivity in the work place. Aminu and Ibeneme (2005), defined in-service training as a calculated attempt towards improving quality of an employee in terms of skills, knowledge and attitude with a view to obtaining qualitative and quantitative output from him. In-service training needs arise when workers or employees cannot cope with new techniques and innovations in their professional areas. They maintained that in-service training is a well planned and organized efforts to change the behaviour and to improve on the skills acquired by an employee as to perform to acceptable standard on the job.

In-service training is a vital aspect of organizational management. This is because it is an investment in people and its essence is to enable the staff acquire more knowledge and better techniques by way of improved standard and quality of work as well as help create job satisfaction for the staff. It should be noted that in a fast changing technological age, the need for employees in-service training cannot be overemphasized, hence, it should be encouraged, organized and be a continuous exercise (Ofordile, 2007).

Several authors such as (Onah 2003), Mahapatra (2002) among others have emphasized the importance of in-service training as it increases both quality and quantity of output, engenders self-confidence and good judgement, develops positive orientation towards work, is very crucial in organizations especially in the changing environment in which executive secretaries work.

Mahapatra (2002) opined that in-service training is essential in public establishments to improve and maintain the service quality and standard of staff and the organization itself. Therefore, the executive secretaries require adequate training so that they can handle confidently more diverse and demanding assignments. He maintain that the goals and objectives of the organization will be achieved by the motivation, dedication, quality of work and skills that would be exhibited by the training staff in their work environment. He strongly posited that in-service training plays a vital role in ensuring that the organization staff are prepared to take on their responsibilities.
Bryson (1990) maintained that every organization has the basic purpose of achieving a set of roles with respect to the management of its human resources.

This is done by improving the performance of members of the organization to achieve a set goal or objective for the organization. This is because the productivity or success of any given organization depends to a large extent on the calibre of the people who work for it. Thus, this can be achieved when human potentials that serve as the backbone of the organization are developed, and properly managed. If the staff are effectively developed, their knowledge, skills and competence can lead to enviable social and economic heights of the organization in its goals accomplishment.

Collins (1994) opined that there should be some constant retraining exercises for executive secretaries in order to be well equipped and up-to-date in their knowledge, attitude and skills. He went further to state that such retraining should be in all areas of secretarial development which include Information and Communication Technology Skills, Human relation skills, stenographic, Communication, Administrative and managerial skills, reprographic, micrographic and electronic record keeping skills. Retraining and developing the executive secretaries in the above areas will enable them to discharge their duties and responsibilities effectively and efficiently and with higher degree of performance. Agbo (2006), described an executive secretary as an employee who can cope with all the stress and demands of the office in a manner that will ensure her overall control of the crises that may emanate from managing records, communication, information, people and other resources that are intrinsically involved in making office the nerve center of any business organization. Executive secretary is seen as an administrative assistant who is able to cope with the stress involves in his work and who is able to carry out his assigned responsibilities with less or no supervision. Public establishments according to Oldroyd (1994) are government owned, financed, controlled and managed organizations. Therefore, an effective and efficient public establishment is one that has workers who exhibit high levels of job quality performance, high productivity and organizational commitments. According to Cole (1996), training is an activity designed to improve key areas of skills and knowledge. He maintained that development is broader than training because development is centred on increase in knowledge and skills acquisition. This research work intends to compare secretarial profession of yesterday and today and effect of education, training, working conditions and the modern technology on the profession.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Technological advancement has been extended to all spheres of human endeavours. Offices are daily modernized through the use of latest equipment and procedures. These affect the executive secretary and his profession. The challenges of new techniques and innovations demand from executive secretaries much greater responsibilities and improved performances on their jobs.

The essence of providing in-service training for executive secretaries is to enable them develop professionally, keep abreast on new knowledge and technology in their office procedures and operations. However, Oldroyd (1994) and Mahapatra (2002), have observed that public establishments pay only lip service to in-service training of their employees and this automatically accounts for staff inadequacies such as poor job performance. It is in this Gbosi (1999) maintains that where in-service training exists, it is haphazardly coordinated, poorly monitored and organized. Ofordile (2007) observes that in-service training programmes have continued to experience the constraints of inadequate funds. This is because employees’ retraining in public establishment is considered expensive in terms of time and maintenance of staff during the programme. He maintains that lack of willingness by the employees to be retrained and some staff with long experience may not show interest in in-service training programmes that do not have any weight for purpose of assessment and they hardly take retraining seriously as a means of changing behaviour of the organization.

There is also the management inability to recognize the in-service training needs of their employees. The work force is generally under-tapped, underutilized and therefore falls short of its anticipated contributions to the realization of organizational goals.

Therefore, these above inadequacies, if not properly addressed will result in poor performance, difficulty in attaining organizational goals and objectives, and lack of individual development and so on. These anomalies should urgently be corrected for the benefit of both the organizations and their staff members. This research work therefore intends to compare secretarial profession of yesterday and today and effect of education, training, working conditions and the modern technology on the profession.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The major purpose of this study was to assess secretarial profession of yesterday and today and effect of education, training, working conditions and the modern technology on the profession in IBETO GROUP. Specifically, the study sought:

  1. To assess the Information and Communication Technology skills of yesterday and today needs of executive secretaries in IBETO GROUP.
  2. To assess the human relations skills for in-service training needs of executive secretaries in IBETO GROUP.
  3. To assess the Administrative/managerial skills for in-service training needs of executive secretaries in IBETO GROUP.
  4. To assess the reprographic technology skills for in-service training needs of executive secretaries in IBETO GROUP.

1.4 Significance of the Study

It is hoped that the findings of this study will be of immense benefit to administrators, secretarial staff, researchers, secretarial education students. Administrators (management): There is no single organization that can do without training and developing its staff. As such this study will provide adequate information to the management that will go through it to get a foreknowledge of the types of in-service training needs of their staff and the importance of in-service training and the condition that determine that. They could adopt the findings to plan and organize in-service training programmes for their staff.

Secretarial staff: The executive secretaries will be made to realize that adequate in-service training programmes enable them to possess the level of intellectuals skills with which they can perfectly and proficiently handle the demands of their daily routines and to understand that adequate training will help to ensure job satisfaction. The results of the study will hopefully stimulate further research on the in-service training needs of other cadres of the secretarial staff by opening the frontiers of information on more in-service training programmes. Finally, secretarial education students would benefit from the findings of the study. They would understand better concepts being taught and be able to express their views about concepts encountered in classroom interactions.

1.5 Research Questions

The following research questions have been formulated to guide the study:

  1. What are the Information and Communication Technology skills of yesterday and today needs of executive secretaries in IBETO GROUP?
  2. What are the human relations skills needed for in-service training of the executive secretaries in IBETO GROUP?
  3. What are the administrative/managerial skills needed for in-service training of the executive secretaries in IBETO GROUP?
  4. What are the reprographic technology skills needed for in-service training of the executive secretaries in IBETO GROUP?

1.7 Definition of Terms

For better understanding of this research work the following operational terms are defined.


The act of putting something into operation, the control or direction of affairs


Agreement between particular things, likeness, the act of exchanging letters.


Having a noticeable or desired result


To make a note on a document or notes taken during a meeting


The arrangement of points to form an effective whole. A group of people with a special purpose.


The branch of knowledge, study, mastery and utilization of manufacturing and industrial methods; systematic application of knowledge to practice industry.


The first trained professional officer


This is the act of writing with feathers by the penman.


One who has the skill of writing shorthand outlines and transcribing on the typewriter.


Use of automatic equipment and machines in handling of secretarial matters.


Writer in ancient times.

Present Secretary:

A modern secretary who is equipped with the new information technology system.

Past Secretary:

All the secretaries that existed between (1940 and 1970) are known as first generation secretaries.


According to National Secretaries Association quoted by Obodo (2001), is an executive assistant who possesses a mastery of skills; who demonstrates the ability to assume responsibilities without direct supervision, who exercises initiative and judgment and who makes decisions within the scope of assigned authority.

Chattered Secretary:

A professional body that controls the activities of its members and regulates entry into the profession through a set of organized examination.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Summary of Findings

Based on the data collected and analyzed the following major findings of the study on in-service training needs of executive secretaries in public establishments are:

  1. 13 out of 19 items on the Information and Communication Technology skills needed for in-service training of executive secretaries were agreed to as needed by the respondents with means raging from 3.50 – 4.67.
  2. All the nine items on the human relations skills needed for in-service training of executive secretaries in public establishments were agreed to as needed by the respondents with means ranging from 3.88 – 4.68.
  3. 15 administrative/managerial skills needed for in-service training of executive secretaries were in strong agreement with the opinions of the respondents (executive secretaries). This was with means ranging from

5.2 Conclusions

The study concludes that there are in-service training needed by executive secretaries which provides better performance in their office procedures and operations today. The study is also of the view that in-service training needed by the executive secretaries in up-dating their skills, attitudes and knowledge should be adequately provided which will enable them to contribute to the realization of organizational goals and objectives. It is evident in the study that when executive secretaries in public establishments are given opportunities for in-service training in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), their job performance in their office procedures and operations are bound to improve considerably as such they are motivated to carry out their office routines cheerfully and remarkably.

5.3 Recommendations

The following recommendations were made based on the findings of the study and the implications:

  1. The administrator in public establishments should endeavour to afford their executive secretaries in-service training opportunities through which they could be retrained in emergent innovations and techniques in the world of work.
  2. The administrators in those pubic establishments should endeavour to properly organize and coordinate the policy (in-service training) as to create enabling environment for executive secretaries to update their knowledge and skills in this dispensation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
  3. The government who owned, managed and controlled those public establishments should be ready to sponsor the executive secretaries to attend both local and national conferences, workshops seminars and refresher courses in Universities, Colleges of Education and Polytechnics so as to help them build up their knowledge and keep abreast of new happenings in their career and also to remain relevant in their office procedures and operations especially in this era of automated offices.
  4. Promotion of these executive secretaries should be based on merit and frequent submission for in-service training programme for upgrading of knowledge and skills and not on the basis of years of experience.
  5. Secretarial staff should at any time be ready to go for in-service training not minding the inconveniences it might caused them. Secretarial staff training schools should be established, well furnished with adequate modern machines and equipment with qualified personnel for the retraining of the executive secretaries in both private and public establishments.

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