OFFICE AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT COURSES AND SECRETARIES SKILLS DEVELOPMENT (A STUDY OF SELECTED TERTIARY INSTITUTION IN RIVERS STATE)
1.1BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Office and Information management courses in tertiary institutions could be seen as a curriculum response to the demands of dynamic and computerized workplace, which is aimed at the production of highly proficient breeds of administrative personnel that would coordinate high office information systems and provide technical skills with core business line functions. This is in line with the issues of national Policy on Education revised (2012) aimed at acquisition of appropriate skills, abilities and competencies both mental and physical as equipment for individual to live and contribute to the development of the society. Office and information management courses have been designed by the National Board for Technical Education on November 2004, to replace secretarial studies courses which had been in existence since 1989. The review was necessitated by the fact that the skills, attitude and knowledge previously acquired in the course of the study were inadequate to arm today’s graduate secretaries with the competencies needed to adjust to the rapidly changing needs of the office (Nwosu in Baba and Akaraha, 2012). However, the courses came into being for two major reasons: one is response to the yeaning of secretarial students on the need to change the name. Secondly, and most importantly as a result of change in curriculum with more emphasis on information management so as to equip students with necessary skills needed in today’s office environment. The objective of Office and Information Management courses include among others; equipping the students with the knowledge competencies and special skills that will enable them to successfully hold position as managers, secretaries, administrative assistants in all sectors of the economy (NBTE, 2012).
A secretary is an assistant to an executive officer or a manager in an organization who plays a vital role in the day to day running of the office, the secretary who is trained to type and perform many office duties this training requires courses in office management and information management for an effective job performance in modern offices and organizations. The secretary possesses personal and business attributes. The secretary in modern offices today, guards his professional ethics and conducts of confidentiality, good appearance and absolute loyalty (Onifade, 2010). The work of the secretary is categorized by handling and processing of information within the office environment. Office Management refers to the management of Information and Communication facilities by secretaries in the execution of their tasks and jobs in an office space. Secretarial practices in the public and private sectors have witnessed several changes with regard to the roles and tasks of the secretary in an organization (Akpormi & Ordu, 2013).
According to Ubulom (2010), roles of a secretary have gone beyond performing the normal manual and day to day official routines. To him, in today’s new technology office environment, secretaries are expected to acquire modern and advanced information system through information system courses and application skills in order to be proficient in their duties and tasks. Secretaries in some organizations are most times called information managers since the functional processes to which they are generally exposed to, are synonymous with normal office information managing day to day activities. Mortion (2012) listed new office technologies to include PowerPoint (slider presentation), blogging, mobile devices, iTunes, screen casting, augmented and virtual reality, camp (concept mapping), twitter, wikis, voice threat, voice recognition, web, video and Tele-conferencing, video conferencing, interactive white board, personal digital assistance handheld computers, web-based discussions list-serve, bulletin board/electronic discussion environment, online library, database, LCD projector, overhead projector, direct to home tech, two way messaging papers, Internet etc.
Nwosu, Anaka and Eleoba, (2014) explained that secretaries today require new sets of skills and competencies in the application of office roles for information processing, management employment, office productivity, job retention, job success and job satisfaction. These authors also observed that secretaries who are not well-equipped and trained with these skills, knowledge and abilities will soon render themselves obsolete, redundant or can even be thrown out of their jobs. It is vital to know that secretaries who are not compliant in acquiring these needed office and information application skills will find it difficult to perform effectively in their assigned office duties in modern organizations. The old pattern of carrying secretarial functions is fast fading away globally; therefore secretaries today ought to be engaged in modern office and information management courses in other to improve their efficiency in task and work. The introduction and invention of modern office equipment and machines has placed a demand on secretaries to acquire certain office and information management skills so as to enhance their job performance. Oguejiofor and Umeh (2016) opined that the stereotype image of the secretary of the past completely with traditional or old office settings is beginning to fade and the image of the new secretary with electronic skills is emerging. Today’s secretaries are required to use computerized office machines/equipment in setting up an information system in the office that would enable them to carry out their office duties efficiently in order to enhance their productivity. Ahukannah (2013) explained that automated office information systems in today’s workplace have fundamentally changed the skills requirements for effective job performance among secretaries. Spiff (2013) in Owen (2011) examined that every secretary has the responsibility of up-dating and acquiring appropriate skills that are important for office information development and dissemination.
Office and Information management, according to Askenas and Westalius (2014) are objects, technical constructions that are used by people (secretaries) to generate, create, organize and disseminate information that are specific to an organization. According to Onuekwa (2014) that information management is coverage of interconnected technological components that are used to collect, process, and store as well as disseminate information to support decision making in any organization or business settings. The author opined that information system increases production in any organization because no organization can exist without adequate information. Yasser, Alina and Nor (2014) opined that information systems technically is a set of interrelated components that are used to collect (or retrieve), process and store, and distribute information to support decision making, coordination and control, in any organization. Supporting this ideology in the same vein, Adakole (2015) described information system management as a term used to explain hardware and software elements that allow an individual to access, retrieve, store, organize manipulates and present information by electronic means in an office environment to enhance efficient information.
Information management application skills according to Chijioke (2015) are the skills that enable users to operate and manipulate all the equipment and machines that can enhance and accelerate the collection of data, its processing, analysis, transmission and presentation as facts to aid rational decision making, planning and control of information. It combines ability to use various office technical devices in executing every day office activities. Information management skills also involve the ability to use information gadgets application software such as, Microsoft suits in the collection, organization and management of office information that relates to the management of clients, sales records, and staff payroll information. It also includes the ability to use modern information equipment’s in receiving, processing and dissemination of information that will enhance the performance of the general organization. The aforementioned skills can be attained through effective training in the courses of office and information management among others.
According to Chijioke (2015) in Nigeria today, secretaries of organizations should be able to have basic trainings and knowledge acquisition on office and information management this is because these skills acquired in form of learning are put into use effective in other to bring about an excellent job performance in tasks by the secretaries which in return bring about the general development and growth of the organization. Therefore this study centers on impact of office and information management courses on secretaries skill development in selected tertiary institutions in Rivers state.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The secretary is undoubtedly an indispensable entity of an office and it is said that the manager’s job is influenced one way or the other by the secretary and that is why many organizations and companies recognize the need for secretaries and actually employ them to work with their managers. There has been ignorance of the fact that secretary is becoming a critical resource to drive and support performance in clerical and general administrative office functions in organization’s growth today.
Office and information Management is embedded with a conglomerate of courses inclined to development of skills and competencies in secretaries. It has been observed that there certain certification which must be met by modern sectaries in order to achieve the overall objectives of the program in the selected higher Institutions of learning in Rivers state. With the unprecedented rate of change in technology as requiring knowledgeable workers and creating entrepreneur opportunities, trained and equipped sectaries need to be adequately prepared to make choices and acquire basic secretarial skills to enhance work productivity. Other critical issues requiring immediate attention include as follows: inadequate number of secretaries, poor societal perceptions about secretaries, poor funding for adequate training and skill development of secretaries etc. The challenges and bottle necks mentioned above constitute a problem towards secretarial skill development in Nigeria. Therefore the study is centered on office and information management courses and secretaries skill development.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this work therefore is to study office and information courses and secretaries skills development in Rivers state. Other objectives of the study are:
1) To assess the level of secretary’s skill development in Nigeria.
2) To examine the impact of office and information management courses on secretaries’ skills development in selected tertiary institutions in Rivers state
3) To examine other factors that influences secretary’s skills development in Rivers state
4) To evaluate the relationship between office and information courses and secretaries skills in selected tertiary institution in Rivers state.
5) To examine the challenges of an effective secretaries skill development in Nigeria
6) To recommend solution to the challenges of an effective secretaries skill development in Rivers state
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1) What is the level of secretary’s skill development in Nigeria?
2) What is the impact of office and information management courses on secretaries’ skills development in selected tertiary institutions in Rivers state?
3) What are other factors that influence secretary’s skills development in Rivers state?
4) What is the relationship between office and information courses and secretaries skills in selected tertiary institution in Rivers state.
5) To examine the challenges of an effective secretaries skill development in Nigeria
6) What are the solutions to the challenges of an effective secretary’s skill development in Rivers State?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant impact of office and information management courses on secretary’s skills development in selected tertiary institutions in Rivers state
H1: There is a significant impact of office and information management courses on secretaries’ skills development in selected tertiary institutions in Rivers state
HO: There is no significant relationship between office and information management courses and secretaries skills development in selected tertiary institutions in Rivers state
H1: There is a significant relationship between office and information management courses and secretaries skills development in selected tertiary institutions in Rivers state.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of the study would be beneficial to practicing secretaries, secretarial lecturers and students, tertiary institutions academic boards.
This study would be relevant to practicing secretaries as the findings and recommendation of the study revealed the computer-based competencies which secretaries need for effective performance in office. This will enable secretaries who are not ICT compliant to seek retraining course so as to enable them cope with the challenges of their job.
This study will be of great benefit to Office and Information Management lecturers and students. The findings and recommendations of the study will enable them to be aware of the technological development in the electronic office and the need to update their knowledge, skills and competencies in order to keep abreast of such technological development. They will also see the need to interact with each other and share information and ideas that will help them.
The findings of this study will enable tertiary institutions academic boards to keep abreast of the technological development in office and office education, by identifying those computer based skills that are needed by secretaries for effective work performance in modern office. This will enable them to appreciate the need to formulate policies and provide relevant facilities needed to train secretaries that will meet the challenge of office technology.
Tertiary institutions academic Board would benefit from this study as the findings and recommendation reveal the technological trend in secretarial functions. This will enable them to develop a well thought out curriculum and regularly review same in the light of technological trends in the office for competent training of secretaries that will fit properly into office of any organization and perform professionally the role of secretary.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on office and information management courses and secretaries skills development, a study of selected tertiary institutions in Rivers state.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Secretary: A secretary, administrative professional, or personal assistant is a person, whose work consists of supporting management, including executives, using a variety of project management, communication, or organizational skills.
Secretarial Skills: Secretarial skills are subjects or courses that an individual undertakes in order to be able to work as a secretary who will be charged with the responsibility of writing, receiving, recording, arranging, and typing of correspondences and other business documents of the society or other organization.
Office and Information Management: This is an enhancement of secretarial studies preparing secretaries to be future office manager and also acquire computer skills such as desktop publishing, MS Excel, Database management, power point and other application.