A Comparative Study Of Secretarial Profession In Nigeria Yesterday And Today (a Case Study Of Ibeto Group Of Companies Nnewi)

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          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and background for the study, the researcher reviewed various literatures such as textbooks, journals, magazines and unpublished materials, which directly relate t the topic of study.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.

          Having collected the data, the researcher adopted the use of simple percentage, which is Likert’s 5 point summated rating scale to analyze the data.

          Major findings of the study revealed that:


The researcher must not fail to register her eternal gratitude to the Almighty God for His continued anchorage of her life not regarding her shortcomings.

Her profound gratitude goes to her project supervisor, Chief (Daddy) J.E. Odenigbo, for giving her attention, direction, and lost supervision that helped immensely in making this research work a reality.

          She also acknowledges her H.O.D., Rev. S.O. Ezugwu. Worthy of mention are her parents, her entire family most especially her brother for all their immeasurable efforts towards her upbringing and success in an academic feat of this nature.  She owes her sincere and immense gratitude to them for making her education a reality.  She is also thanking them for their advice and directives during the difficult moments of her studies.

          Greetings and appreciation goes to all her friends both at home and here in the Institute.

Ikedife Nkiru C.


July 2004.




Title page                                                                                 i

Approval page                                                                          ii

Dedication                                                                                iii

Acknowledgement                                                                    iv

Abstract                                                                                   v

Table of Contents                                                                     vi

Chapter One

1.0     Introduction                                                                    1
1.1     Background of the Study                                                 1

1.2             Statement of The problem                                               7

1.3             Significance of the Study                                                 7

1.4             Purpose of the Study                                                       8

1.5             Limitations of the Study                                                   8

1.6             Research Question                                                          9

1.7             Definition of Terms                                                         10

Chapter Two      

2.0             Review of Related Literature                                            13

2.1             Introduction                                                                    13

2.2             Traditional Secretary/Secretaries of Yesterday: The past   16

2.3             Traditional Secretary/secretaries of today: The present      18

2.4             Prospects of Secretarial Profession of Today in Ibeto      23

2.5             Group of Companies                                                       24

2.6             Employment promotion opportunities          

and increased Salary of secretaries of Today                    26      chapter three

3.0             Research design and methodology                                   28

3.1             Introduction                                                                    28

3.2             Research design                                                              28

3.3             Instrumentation                                                               29

3.4             Population                                                                      29

3.5             Sample and Sampling Techniques                                    30

3.6             Data collection procedure                                                31

3.7             Method of Data Analysis                                                 32

Chapter Four

4.0             Data presentation and Analysis                                         33

4.1             Introduction                                                                    33

4.2             Analysis of Respondents’ Biographic Data                       34

4.3             Analysis of Research Statement Data                               38

4.4             Analysis of Research Question                                        53

Chapter Five

Summary of Findings, Recommendation and Conclusion           56

5.1             Introduction                                                                    56

5.2             Summary of the Study                                                     56

5.3             Recommendations                                                           59

5.4             Conclusions                                                                    60

References                                                                               62

Appendix: Sample of Research Questionnaire                            64





The introduction of the secretarial profession is as old as man and nature.  The role arose out of the natural need for a prominent person to whom confidential matters could be entrusted and who could act as an assistant for a principal.

It is known that secretaries existed in Rome prior to the establishment of the empire.  They were usually educated men who took dictations as “scribes” and often times acted as trusted advisors.

Before the invention of parchment and reed pens, tools of the trade for scribes ranged from chisels used upon stones to styluses used on clay, wood or wax tablet.  Events and works of great men during that time were recorded in one form or the other.  Like Alexander the great said, “reliable records shows that the present day secretary came from the genesis whose oldest is ‘penman’.

The first personnel officer trained was stylishly called ‘penman’ and this art is known as ‘penmanship’.  The penman originally used quill feathers as pen in making fanciful writings.  Other classes of secretaries emerged after the penman called ‘the writer’ and constituted themselves into what may be regarded as “chartered secretaries” who rendered useful service to individuals and organizations that requires their services.


A Brief History of Shorthand and Typewriting

          According to new encyclopedia Britannica (1990:1052) noted that most historians date the beginnings of shorthand with the Greek historian euphony, who used an ancient Greek recording the memories of Socrates. it was in the roman empire however, that shorthand first became generally used.  Marcus tallies tiro, a learned freedman who was a member of cicero’s household, invented the tironians notes – which was the first Latin shorthand system.  It was devised in 63 B.C. it lasted over a thousand years. t he Latin triennia shorthand became popular enough to be compiled into shorthand dictation and used by emperors and learned clergymen in speed writing contents.

          As a result, a number of shorthand systems were invented.  In 1837 Isaac Pitman published his first Latin edition of the art.  In 1840, the second edition of his work appeared, under the title ‘photography or writing by sound, being also a new and natural system of  shorthand”.  His work which was in different forms include Pitman’s shorthand Instructor and Key; New Era; Pitman 2000 and Pitman Script.  “The light line photographic of John Greeg was also published in 1888.  Soon after their publication, these systems started to flourish in America and have now spread tentacles to almost every country of the world.

          Before the invention of the typewriter, all written material was done by hand-writing. William Austine Bunt invented the first typewriter in the United States of America (U.S.A0 in 1829.  The machine, which he invented, wrote slower than a biro pen.  However, in 1874 Christopher Sholes introduced a machine, which was faster than a biro pen.  At the period under review, the typewriter keyboard was arranged alphabetically, and the improved version was made in 1872 for convenience reasons.

          Naturally, typewriters invention changed the cause of things for the secretaries because they started to learn how to manipulate it with their.

          In early modern times, members of the nobility had secretaries who were always men, who had command of several languages, including Latin, and were required t have what we could consider today as broad generalized education.

          As commerce and trade expanded people of wealth and power needed secretaries, confidants and trusted agents, to handle correspondence on private or confidential matters, most particularly matters of state.  Men continued to dominate the secretarial field.

          Secretarial profession underwent another evolution with the coming of the World War II in the Year 1940, when the men were drafted into the armed forces and only the women were left behind to carry on the secretarial jobs.  Since that time, secretarial profession all over the world had been feminine in nature with men getting into it considered largely as intruders.

          Recognizing that continuing education was imperative to career success, a group of secretaries in America’s heartland became the nucleus of an organization that would help to professionalize the occupation.  In 1942, the National Secretarial Association (NSA) now known a International Association of Administrative Professionals was formed. NSA first administered the certified professional examination, a standard of excellence for the profession in 1951.

          Sir Frederick Lord Lugard (the first Governor General of Nigeria) who brought his wife to assist him in keeping and storing important documents introduced the secretarial profession in Nigeria in 1914.  Today it has generally spread everywhere throughout the country.  Every organization now has a person who takes care of important and confidential documents in the name of a secretary.

          Akintola (1992) had it that the profession of stenographers was a male affair up till the 1950’s few women were found in the profession and these were expatriate executives.  These male stenographers were never placed as Confidential Secretaries rather only the female expatriates were given such opportunities because their language was used, secondly, they were well trained for the skills before coming to Nigeria.  He further stated that by 1960, the expatriates left Nigeria while some Nigerian men and women on training replaced their positions.  Lectures, seminars and workshops were organized for secretaries.


The Definition of Secretary

          The word “secretary” ultimately cam from the same Latin word “Sectrum” meaning secret.  Originally, it meant, “one entrusted with secrets and confidence of a superior”.  In Middle English, it was secretaries and in Middle Latin, it was Secretarius.  In France from 13th to the 16th century, the word secretaries meant a confidant.  It also became an administrative term meaning “someone who transcribes or arranges for another”.

          By 1847, the definition in the First Millennium Webster Dictionary was greatly expanded. “Secretary” – (1) A person employed by a public body or by a company or by an individual, to write orders, letters, dispatches, public or private papers, records and the like.

          Secretary – (2) An officer whose business is to manage the affairs of a particular department of government as the secretary of state.

          Today, the word “secretary” is commonly stereotyped to mean a “person who types correspondence” or a “dictation taker”.  To better describe the administrative and information management functions of today’s office support staff, the term “administrative professionals” is recommended as blanked term for office support staff by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP).



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.



This study is essentially significant in the following ways;

i.                    It will highlight some of the differences between secretaries of yesterday and today.

ii.                  The findings from his investigation will enhance the image of secretaries and thus place them in their rightful position along other officers.

iii.                The outcome of this study will be beneficial to all practicing secretaries who are already in the system.

iv.               Another set of people that will benefit from this study are all student secretaries all over the country. It will enhance the overall performance of the student secretaries because they will be convinced on the importance of this profession.

v.                 Finally,  the findings from the research will ensure a concrete perception of the secretarial profession by the general public.

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A Comparative Study Of Secretarial Profession In Nigeria Yesterday And Today