The study examined the roles and the effectiveness of professional secretaries within government parastatals, using Ministry of Agriculture and Environment as a study. The study adopted survey design using primary source of data with questionnaire as instrument of data collection. A total of 150 questionnaires were administered to level five to seven out of which 142 were duly filled and returned. Chi-square statistical method was used to verify the degree of significance of roles and level of effectiveness of Professional Secretaries. The result of the findings show succinctly those Professional secretaries are not effective in government parastatals. This was affirmed using respondents’ opinion to research question one and the conclusion drawn from hypothesis one in which it was concluded that Professional secretaries are not effective in government parastatals. The study further revealed that ICT have significant impact on the performance of Professional secretaries. It was also established that ICT skills have improved the effectiveness of Professional secretaries. This was affirmed using respondents’ the conclusion drawn from hypothesis three in which it was concluded that ICT skills have improved the effectiveness of Professional secretaries. Based on the findings the study recommends that Government parastatals should engage the secretaries in on the job training and off the job training especially in the area of using ICT, which without doubt will enhance their job performance, the Ministries should acquire and adopt ICT infrastructure within the parastatals, and More research needs to be done in the area of ascertaining the relevance of professional secretaries’ usefulness within the ministries.
1.2 Background to the Study
The role of a secretary is indispensable in every organization especially in public sector. (Azih,2013) A secretary according to Mayer cited in Azih (2013) is an executive assistant who possess a mastery of office skills, demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility with or without supervision, exercises initiatives and judgment and makes decision with the scope of assigned authority. The secretary is a public relations expert, a staff assistant, the boss’s office memory. The secretary is responsible for much of the detail work of the office and is expected to carry out the duties with a minimum of supervision and direction. According to Nwosu as cited in Azih (2013) A Secretary is expected to represent the organization and the employer attractively to the public and generate good human relations in working with all employees in the organization. This explains that a qualified secretary should have a wide knowledge of business acumen, be versatile in office practice, communication and knowledge of the operation of all departments within the organization where he works, unlike a half-baked secretary who possesses only knowledge of shorthand, typewriting and basic office practices (Azih,2013).
Duniya (2011) observed that due to the introduction of sophisticated technological (electronic) office equipment into today’s office and the role secretaries need to play in ensuring accuracy and efficiency in their jobs, the secretaries need to meet the challenges by acquiring new skills and competencies for efficient operations in the electronic office. There is continuous advancement in technology which has affected the secretarial profession in terms of the quality, speed and accuracy of works performed. This has led to the introduction of various electronic facilities to ensure adequate secretarial practice in organization. It is essential that secretaries are properly trained on the usage of these modern facilities to enhance their level of productivity. The proficiency level of a secretary is highly determined by the availability and usage of modern office technology provided in the office environment as well as the acquired skills and competencies of the secretary (Nwaokwa and Okoli, 2012). This is based on the fact that modern offices are automated. Automation is a collection of methods for controlling machinery and production processes by mechanical method, usually with electronic equipment (Akpomi and Ordu, 2009). Automation entails an integration of work station where the secretary would have access to the electronic equipment needed to create, process, store, retrieve and disseminate information. The advent of automation has ushered in an electronic era whereby human works are done by machines.
The introduction of modern Information Communication and Technology equipment has affected the demands of the modern secretary (Nwaokwa and Okoli, 2012). The duties of secretaries have been revolutionized especially in the areas of communication, telecommunication, micrograph and reprography. The technology has replaced mechanical technology; new technologies are replacing the old ones. Typing, keyboarding and voice processing are now used in place of dictation and carbonizations. In the area of reprography stencil duplication has been replaced by computer print outs and Xeroxing systems. In the area of micrograph and telecommunications, horizontal suspension and other systems are now replaced by compact disc run and d-base computer systems. Telephones have gone digital while teleconferencing, internet and networking are currently used. The modern office unlike the traditional office makes use of e-mail, fax and other telecommunication equipment. It is imperative to note that currently there is a high demand for skilled and technological trained workers. Regrettable, most secretarial graduates acquire theoretical knowledge which does not match well with the demands of work place.
However, there is acute shortage of trained personnel in the application of software, operating system, network communication and local technicians to service and repair computer facilities. However, the secretaries today are not only required to have theoretical and practical knowledge and skills in ICT computer operations, but to be exposed to the use of some computer packages like excel, data base management, etc. They should be conversant with the issue of interconnectivity, ecommerce, skills in browsing the website, skills in data protection techniques and security and adequate knowledge of how to use search engines to gain access to lots of educational resources. In a study carried out by Ntukidem (2000), he found out that advancement in technology has continued unabated and has enriched and widened the scope and practice of the secretarial profession in terms of work quality, speed, accuracy and variety. He also concluded that today, the secretarial profession is faced with array of telecommunication tools and facilities based on modern technology.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
The roles and effectiveness of professional secretaries is becoming imperative relative to advancements in the area of information of communication and technology. Communication technologies are new innovations in offices that enable the discharge of office functions more rapidly and efficiently (Nwaokwa and Okoli, 2012). The emergence of office technologies in modern day organizations has challenged the occupational skills of the employees including the secretaries. Hence, these communication technologies have recently revolutionized office skills and rendered some skills such as transcription skills, typing on the manual typewriters obsolete and has also given rise to previously unknown skills such as web design, desktop publishing, networking, internet skills, etc., in modern organizations. This development has obviously challenged the skills and functions of secretaries.
These advancements in communication technologies has led to the need for secretaries to reposition themselves in other to continue to be relevant in their performance of office functions as well as cope with the trend of technological changes in today’s modern offices.
It is against the backdrop of these ICT-centric roles and functions of secretaries this study will be evaluating the roles and effectiveness of professional secretaries in selected government parastatals.
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to critically evaluate the roles and effectiveness of professional secretaries in selected government parastatals, other specific objectives include the following:
- Determine the roles professional secretaries in government offices
- Identify the skills required that will enhance their performance as professional secretaries.
- Examine the role ICT plays in the effectiveness of professional secretaries.
- Evaluate the importance of professional secretaries in government parastatals.
1.4 Relevant Research Questions
The principal question of this research is: what are the roles of professional secretaries and what makes them effective? This research will also try to provide answers to the following sub-questions in the course of this study:
- What roles do professional secretaries play in government parastatals?
- What skills do professional secretaries need for job performance?
- What roles does ICT play enhancing the performance of professional secretaries?
- What is the importance of professional secretaries in government establishment?
1.5 Relevant Research Hypotheses
In the course of this study two null hypotheses will be fully examined
Ho: Professional secretaries do not have significant roles in government parastatals
H1: Professional secretaries are not effective in government parastatals.
Ho: ICT does not have significant impact on the performance of Professional secretaries
H1: ICT have significant impact on the performance of Professional secretaries
Ho: ICT skills have not improved the effectiveness of Professional secretaries
H1: ICT skills have improved the effectiveness of Professional secretaries
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be significant in the following areas:
- i) A better understanding on the roles and what makes professional secretaries effective.
- ii) Ascertain the skills necessary and required to enhance the performance of professional secretaries.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study will be examining few secretaries in just two selected government establishment, which ministry of environment and ministry of agriculture. This study restricts itself to ICT skills required for professional secretaries to be able to perform their roles and become effective in the 21st century.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Secretary: a person employed by an individual or in an office to assist with correspondence, make appointments, and carry out administrative tasks.
ICT: information and communications technology – or technologies is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on.
Desktop Publishing: the production of printed matter by means of a printer linked to a desktop computer, with special software. The system enables reports, advertising matter, etc., to be produced cheaply with a layout and print quality similar to that of typeset books.
Telephone: the telephone is one of the means of communication used within and outside the organization. The mode of use of telephone in an organization is determined by the size of the organization
Fascimile (Fax) machine: This machine sends and receives documents and letters over telephone lines reproducing both text and pictures.
Reprography: This is the process of producing many copies of original document. The equipment varies in size depending on the volume of multiple copies to be made. Equipment under reprography are photocopier, cyclostyling/mimeograph machines and lithopress.
Micrograph: entails the photographic reduction of images of text into slide stripes.
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