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Enugu, Nigeria
Enugu State

A Survey Into The Degree Of Usefulness Of Shorthand To Modern Secretaries

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The degree to which shorthand is used in offices has been of serious concern both to students and tutors in secretarial studies.  This study investigated the extent to which secretaries make use of shorthand in their day-to-day office work, whether the extent of usage is proportionate to the effort put in learning the skill and whether employers who want secretaries regard shorthand skill as job requirements.

In order to arrive at a c conclusive decision on the above objectives, the researcher carried out a library research, interviews and questionnaires.

The population of this study consisted of sixty secretaries in three branches of Union Bank Plc in Enugu State drawn from secretaries and executives in the banks.  Questionnaires and oral interview were used to collect data.

Statistical tools used are simple average and percentage.  When the data was analyzed, it was found that shorthand is not extensively used in offices and that the speeds at which employers dictate is between 80 and 100 w.p.m.  It was further discovered that executives insist on shorthand skill as a job requirement for secretaries though they do not use it extensively and would not employ a secretary two has no shorthand skill.

It was recommended that as many secretaries prefer to make use of their shorthand skill in their work, the executive should encourage them by dictating rather than writing out correspondents for them.  It was further recommended that as shorthand is still considered a job requirement for secretaries, they should strive hard to master this skill in spite of the difficulties encountered in learning it to enable them meet the needs of their employers.

As executive do not dictate at any speed higher than 100 w.p.m., there is need for secretarial training institutions to step down their shorthand speed requirement from 120w.p.m to 100 w.p.m. to relieve the secretaries of the anxiety of the additional 20 w.p.m.







Title page                                                                                 i

Approval page                                                                          ii

Dedication                                                                                iii

Acknowledgement                                                                     iv

Abstract                                                                                   vi

Table of content                                                                       viii

Chapter one

1.0             Introduction                                                                    1

1.1             Background of the study                                                 1

1.2             Statement of the problem                                                 4

1.3             Purpose of the  study                                                      6

1.4             Delimitation  of the study                                                6       

1.5             Significance of the study                                                  7

1.6            Research questions                                                                   7

Chapter two                           

2.0             Review of related literature                                               9

2.1    The meaning of a secretary                                        9      

2.2       Qualities of a secretary                                                         10

2.3       Training of a secretary                                                 16

2.4       Qualification of secretary                                                      22

2.5     Uses of shorthand and summary                                      26

2.6     Summary of literature review                                            32     

Chapter three

3.0             Research methodology                                                    33

3.1             Population                                                                      33

3.2             Sample and sampling technique                                        34

3.3             Data collection instrument                                                35

3.4             Distribution and retrieval of questionnaire                         35

3.5             Method of data analysis                                                   36                                            

Chapter four       

4.0             Presentation & analysis of data                                        38


Chapter five

5.0             Discussion & findings, recommendation and conclusion   63

5.1             Summary of findings                                                       64

5.2             Recommendations                                                           65

Limitation                                                                                 66

Appendix                                                                                 68

Questionnaire                                                                            69






Office is the management seat of any organization.  It is manned by personnel of varying nature.  Included in the list of office personnel are secretaries who carry out important secretarial service in our offices.

 The national Association International (1978) defined as secretary as “an assistance to an executive, possessing mastery of office skills and ability to assume responsibility without direct supervision, one who displays and makes decisions within the scope of her authority”.

For a person to merit the title “Secretary”, there are certain qualifications he/she must posses not only educationally biut also skills he has to attain.  Organizations are becoming more and more achievement oriented and as a result have realized the importance of matching jobs with capable hands in order to achieve efficiency.  Each job demands special quality qualifications, skills and characteristics on the part of the performer.


Secretaries strive hard to acquire these skills, which are needed by organizations in their day-to-day activities.

Emphasizing the need to match specific jobs with specific skills, Turner 91972) remarked “to prepare for efficiency in the business world, development must come in all areas to knowledge skills, techniques and personal qualities”.  Turner further stressed that “the kind of job we get will depend upon the specific skills we have acquired in schools and how well we use them”.  Relating this to secretaries, the basic skills necessary for efficient performance to the office are typewriting, shorthand, book-keeping, filing and operating office machine.  IT is however, pertinent to note that there is no consensus as to the exact background education a secretary should possess.

Among the hot skills required of a secretary, much emphasis is often laid on shorthand.  This can be testified by the numerous newspaper advertisement for the post of secretaries demanding various speeds in shorthand but unfortunately,  no research has been carried out to determine how many of these employers make use of this “Shorthand” skill and at what level they use it.

In highlighting the importance of skill courses to secretaries (Omeanani 1986) argued that a person cannot be a secretary without attaining acceptance level of proficiency to the core subjects of secretarial training of which shorthand is one of them.  What is obtained able to work environment the course curricular of institutions of learning.

Commenting on the related issue of the controlling influence of work environment over education, Fusselman, (1982) remarked that “we should not forget that things outside the school matter even more than the things inside the school and govern things inside,” hence, the need to ascertain the degree to which shorthand is used in work places become relevant.

Expressing the fear that the frequency of use of shorthand by secretaries in the office work might not be proportionate with the efforts students make in the study of shorthand,  Greg (1971) regretted that in spite of work efficiency that can accumulate from the use of shorthand in the office work, secretaries make little or no use of shorthand skill in their work.  He maintains that: Millions of secretaries learnt shorthand but very few use it everyday.  There are secretaries in business offices, courtrooms, government offices, committee meetings etc, where it is desirable to have record of the spoken words, yet less of them make use of shorthand.

It is therefore relevant to ask whether the degree to which shorthand is being used in the offices really justifies the efforts being made in the acquisition of the skill.  It is comprehendible that the essence of training is realized by what it can be used to achieve afterwards.  Guided by Skinner’s (1959) “Principle of learning should be made known to the learners _ is it not paradoxical that some secretaries< in the course of study of shorthand do not have the faintest knowledge of their destination in terms of the level of intensity of using this skill may be subjected to< by the employers.  This lack of knowledge creates psychological block in the student’s enthusiasm to make all the necessary efforts to attain the necessary speed level.



A lot of emphasis has been put on the study of shorthand in schools, colleges and universities as a core subject for secretarial training.  Students often record a lot of failures on this course.  Teachers and student of secretarial studies agree that shorthand is one of the most difficult subjects in the curriculum of secretarial training programme.

De-young (1977) underlines the difficulties associated with the learning and teaching of shorthand in his assertion that educators are constantly looking for ways to improve teaching competence in the secretarial subjects and students on the other hand are also faced with the problem of which learning procedure to adopt in order to conquer the problems posed by shorthand.  Presently, little research has been conducted to determine the meeting point between what teachers teach and what the employers want in terms of the degree of proficiency required for office work and how frequently secretaries make use of shorthand in their day-to-day office duties, and the right answers have not yet surfaced.  This write up therefore aims to find out how relevant shorthand is to present-day employer.  Should shorthand be completely eliminated from the secretarial studies curriculum?  Or should it be de-emphasized or left as it is.  How often is the skill required in today’s modern office with computers and other communication gadgets available?  These and other questions are what this research aims to solve.

1.3            PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of this study is to:
1.       Determine the extent shorthand is used in Union Bank of Nigeria Plc Enugu.

2.                 Determine problems inherent in usage of shorthand by these secretaries.

3.                 Find out whether the degree of usage justifies the efforts normally employed in the acquisition of the skill.

4.                 Find out whether a person without shorthand skill can work effectively and efficiently as a secretary.

5.                 Make recommendations on how to make effective use of shorthand in our offices today.


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