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MICROSOFT WORD SKILLS NEEDED BY NATIONAL DIPLOMA GRADUATES FOR PROPER OFFICE MAINTENANCE IN THE 21ST CENTURY
In Nigeria work setting, most adults are mainly from the private and public organizations while the remaining are in self employment. The private organizations range from the very small scale/one man business to the multinational companies whose ultimate goal is to make profit, provide employment and contribute to social economic development of the nation. Some public
organizations still fall into this category, while majority are established to render some categories of services to the society. For example, a public academic institution is not a profit driven organization but has a goal to ensure that the service of producing graduates is efficiently done with minimal waste.
Therefore, organisations’ production, service and profit depend largely on the workers’ performance and productivity because no investor would invest in an organization/company where work culture is poor (Abiola 1992). Organisations, therefore, combine effectiveness and efficiency of its employees to achieve its goals of profit making, growth and survival amongst competitors in a dynamic business environment. To the employer, effectiveness means producing the desired result and efficiency means producing the result with minimum efforts, expense and waste. The customers waiting chairs in our banks have disappeared with a drive towards efficiency of ensuring that no customer is unnecessarily delayed in the banks. Employers frown at such work habits that will impede the effectiveness and efficiency of its services to the extent that they can fire, stagnate, and demote such erring employees.
An office is a place where the administrative functions of an organization are carried out. The word administrative is derived from the word administer. To administer means to oversee, to manage, to control, to supervise in order to ensure that the goals of the office are achieved. The office also renders clerical, executive and all other office functions for which the office was set up. Primarily, the functions of an office entail receiving information, processing information, giving information, recording information, and safe-guarding the asset of the
Office activities may vary like the works department office, the Bursar’s office, the personnel office but the functions are closely related, that they at one time or the other receive information, process the information, record the information, and give out information when required and above all to protect the asset of the organization. A road construction company that spend so much of its time on road sites constructing road projects, still set aside a place where the activities of the company are coordinated. Therefore, working in the office requires some basic skills.
Skill means the ability to do something well. It is also referred to as a type of ability or a particular ability to do something. Office work skills can, therefore, be referred to mean those abilities required for carrying out the office functions very well. These office work skills are as varied as the office activities vary too. The various activities in an organization are grouped together or clustered and assigned specific job description like Sales unit, Purchases unit, Technical unit, Medical unit, Transport unit etc. Each of these units is involved in the functions of an office. Therefore, the office work skills are as varied as the office activities vary too. These office activities form the training of business education programme. Business education is an academic programme obtainable in higher institutions of learning including colleges of education. Osuala (1981) defined business education as a programme of instruction which consists of two parts – office education; a vocational education programme for office careers and general business education, a programme which provides students with information and competencies needed by all managing, personal business affairs, and using the services of the business world. One of the objectives of the NCE business education is to equip students with the right skills that will enable them to engage in a life of work in the office as well as for self employment. The business education programme involves three broad areas of office education, accounting education and marketing education.
Office education which is a specialized phase of business education prepares students to enter teaching and office occupations as capable and intelligent member of the labour force. On graduation the NCE Office Education graduate is capable of being self employed, take up a teaching job; teaching business subjects or taking up office jobs which form the main focus of this research work. Office education work skills form part of the total office work skills required for the day to day administrative activities of an office in terms of document creation, copying, editing, recording, transmitting etc. Specifically the office work skills involve the type of work done in the office and it includes receiving and dispatching mails, receiving and making calls, receiving visitors, holding meetings, typing of documents, copying of documents, duplicating, filing, storing, retrieving receiving cash and issuing receipt, paying cash, bank lodgement, making travel arrangement, bookkeeping etc. Secretarial and clerical workers are in high demand in both developed and developing economies (Garrison 1997). There is hardly any aspect of political, social, economic, and even cultural life activity that does not require the functions of an office. These offices are manned by clerical and secretarial employees (office education graduates) who receive, record and process information required for carrying on the business of such organization. Office skills comprehensively used to cover a variety of routine and non routine activities in an office.
The growth in technology in business has changed the manpower needs of many businesses as well as the functions in the offices. Many office functions are automated and this leaves the clerical and secretarial employees with non-technical skills to deal with. Therefore, the office employees must be versatile with multitechnical and people-related (psycho-social) skills in order to be relevant in today’s business and the future.
Modern office jobs now require complex and greater skills and knowledge thereby making it imperative for curriculum specialist and vocational education programme developers to adjust their training programmes to meet the challenges of a changing work environment (Aghenta 1982, and Castaldi 1992). Furthermore, the advancement in technology has revolutionalised office functions and obsolescence occurs so quickly affecting occupational structure and specific jobs skills and knowledge. With the office becoming so revolutionized as a result of the advances in information technology where an average executive officer can play with the keyboard, and with the speculation that the advances in information technology will make redundant certain office workers, one wonder if clerical and secretarial employees are still needed in the modern office.
One of the objectives of the National Commission for Colleges of
Education (NCCE) business education programme is to equip graduates with the right skills that will enable them to engage in a life of work in the office as well as for self employment. The work place is such a dynamic environment that is changing with time. The office skills are also not left out of the changes. Often times there are new orders of doing things. Today most registration exercises in our higher institutions are done online. Sooner or later lectures and examinations will be taken online.
Some years ago the need for modern office machines and equipment did not arise. This is because office functions could be performed using manual typewriters, electric typewriters, manually operated photocopying, duplicating machines and other office equipment operated manually to carry out the office functions. These manual office machines and equipment make the office work then a little easier but where characterized with monotonous operation, time consuming, work output dirty, illegible and corrections on such work often difficult and sometimes involves re-typing.
But now, today’s office functions and activities have risen beyond the manual processing of office functions. It is assumed that those office employees trained with manual/crude office machine and equipment does not properly fit into the modern offices/establishment. The NCCE makes a minimum standard
requirement for the equipment and facilities to be provided for the training of the students for example an average of 5 students to one computer, one student to a typewriter, a model office lab with modern office equipment/facilities for a proper understanding of the office situation so as to produce graduates who are up to date and useful to both employers and the society at large. Furthermore, the curriculum content especially emerging technologies of training institutions is yet to match with today’s developments as it takes some period of time for the review of the curriculum. As new businesses and job opportunities are generated every day, there comes the need to identify the skills needed by the office education graduates to match with the new challenges in the modern office so as to be employable on graduation.
The purpose of the study is to identify the office work skills required of NCE Office Education graduates as perceived by employers in selected
organisations in Delta States. Specifically, the study will seek to:
It has been said that change is a constant and worldwide phenomena. This change stems from globalization, information revolution, changing customer’s preferences and tastes, rapid product obsolescence, changing labour force, technological transformation in products and production. These changes take place in every country, culture and organization. The corporate bodies continuously react to the speed of change. The office which coordinates the activities of the organization is directly affected by the various levels of changes, that the office activities require intelligent, creative, hard-working and skill oriented employees.
This study on the office work skills needed by office education graduates in a modern office will be significant as it will reveal the office skills perceived as required by employers of labour for a successful transition from school to the world of work. Furthermore, curriculum planners and the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) will through the findings review the curriculum (minimum standard) to include current issues as they relates to office education training especially in the provision of modern office equipment for the training of the students. Added to these, may be the need to recommend re-training of office employees on modern technology application and usage.
This study will be delimited to private and public organisations in Delta
State and the respondents shall be executives/managers of the organisations.
Office education is an aspect of business education programme which focused on office careers like secretaryship, stenographers, typists, clerks, accounts officers depending on the level of education. Therefore, for the purpose of this work, office education graduates shall be used interchangeably with office secretarial staff, secretary etc. depending on context.
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