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AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE CHALLENGES OF MODERN AUTOMATION ON THE JOB PERFORMANCE OF SECRETARIES IN FINANCIAL HOUSES IN ENUGU NORTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The modern technology and Economic development in recnt years have affected to a large extent the functions and performance of the secretarial profession. Consequently, there arise the need for development of improved devices for the purpose of increasing productivity levels, to make work less tedious. The history of the secretarial revolution of the 14th to 16th centuries. Record keeping and inventions of Manu scripting were first developed. When it becomes imperative that these two innovations could not provide a complete answer to smooth take off of business and full office operations, further inventions were made giving birth to the art of typing with machines.
The invention of the typewriter and its uses in the office were almost revolutionarizin their useful to business application. Work could be done more quickly, more legibly, more accurately and more economically. But the expansion of business activities demand for more and better skill and experienced personnel. The invention of the typewriter was followed by adding and calculating machines, cash register and book-keeping machines.
The office today has changed largely due to technical advances, new business procedures and concepts and international movement.
The use of new machines like computers, fax, machines, electric typewriters, word processing etc has generated new skills and new job opportunities.
These have posed a lot of challenges to the secretaries.
Some secretaries cannot operate these electronic gadgets and other modern equipment. In a research carried out by Okoye (1992:48), it was discovered that “graduate secretaries were rated so low in their abilities to operate such equipments. Their knowledge and shorthand was appreciated but surprisingly, these secretaries could only exhibit a faint knowledge of the mechanism of the copiers and duplicating machines.
Added to this, most secretaries have problems in their work places because of lack skill needed to operate these machines. Lockhart (1991) as cited by Osagie (1992:110) stated that the whole role of typist changed by the impact of new technology. This could mean that the secretarial studies in which we are much involved may need a re0examination with more emphasis on the administrative role of office personnel and fresh look at the whole activities of office management.
Whistler (1970:38) opined that in a recent study of life 15 insurance companies were conducted to determine employment changes at various job levels as a result of automation. These companies believed that without the use of computer that they would need 60% more personnel. In effect, while there may not be (and probably is not) a reduced number of office employees, more work is now being done with electronic machines, than ever before.
For some industries, the installation of computer has hardly affected the total unemployment picture, on the contrarty, new skills have been required. In many companies the rate if turnover among office employees continues to hogh with the result that proposed, reductions in manpower requirements are compensated by moral attrition (Neuner et al, 1972:36 –37)
Further, in an economic and statistical analysis conducted by fortune magazine as cited by Neuner et al (1972:36-37), it was emphatically concluded that automation has made substantially less headway in the United Sates of America economy than the literature on the subject would suggest. Not denying that fact that technology does change and does displace a substantial number of workers, it was noted that ten years after computers have come into common use no fully automated process exists for any major project in any industry in the united states.
With the introduction of automation, an organization stands to gain among others, increased production, efficiency of work and low labor turnover and improved secretarial performance.
This study is therefore geared towards finding out the challenges of automation on the effectiveness of secretaries in financial houses in Enugu North Local Government Area
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
It is not clear what effect modern automation has on secretaries. While the impression is that the introduction of automation in business establishment appear to be a blessing to its users, secretaries who had not up-dated their skills fear that it would replace them. Is that a genuine fear? if an automated office would effectively replace the secretary, how soon would that happen? Much is observed today about the changing office scene. Although many views are expressed concerning this subject, it is widely acknowledged that the future office operations and procedures are quite different from the ones the secretaries are accustomed to. For instance, Olusegun (1991:5) opined that, in a meeting, fear were expressed that another 10 years there might be nothing left for the workers to do since automation and technology might have become so improved that machines begin to operate themselves. While Stouter (1983:28) stressed that sophisticated equipment will never be able to replace the creative, articulate thinking of human being. What equipment can do is to assume the responsibilities for the more repetition o, routine part of office jobs.
Are toady’s secretary’s training programmes designed to accommodate the ever changing job demands to enable her cope effectively with them. These views are more guesses which have not been subjected to scientific study. Hence, this work, “An Investigation into Challenges on modern Automation on the Effectiveness of secretaries in Enugu North Local Government Area” is an attempt to find out the challenges of modern automation on secretaries.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purposes of this study are
- To ascertain whether modern automation pose challenges to secretarial performance and productivity.
- To determine whether secretaries who have no previous experience and skill in the manipulation of modern automation encountered problems
- To find out whether secretaries who are provided opportunities for training and retraining programes so as to meet challenges in modern automation.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will provide a research based information on the current notion-wide argument on the challenges of modern automation to secretarial performance and productivity.
It will also be useful as it would show the adequacies or inadequacies to present day secretaries viz-a-viz the manipulation of modern automation.
Again, the study would be useful to organization and secretaries as it will reveal the training and retraining programmes that are available to meeting these challenges and hence facilitate the realization of set organizational goals.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1n a bid to achieve the objective mention above, the researcher sought answers to the following questions.
- Do modern automation pose challenges to secretarial performance and productivity
- Do secretaries who had no previous experience skill in the manipulation of modern automation have challenges
- Are secretaries exposed to training and retraining in order to meet the challenges of modern automation.
1.6 DEFINITION OF TERMS
DATA PROCESSING: The handling of data entirely by machine from the collection of the data to the production of the output data (Edum et al, 1996:145)
FACSIMILES: An act of duplicating anything written, drawn or typed and transmitted between two distant points (Appleby, 1969:357)
COMPUTER: An office machine with which office data is electronically processed at appreciable speed. (Elendu, 1988:118)
The researcher encountered some constraints. The study was carried out among secretaries in finance houses in Enugu North Local Government Area.
Also the researcher hold limited time and financial constraints which made the research work to be limited to only the area of coverage..
Again question of having identity card (ID) bearing the name of the school and showing that the person is a student made it more difficult for one to the libraries to collect more data.
This study covers five selected financial houses in Enugu North Local Government Area. These are First Bank of Nigeria PLC, Central Bank of Nigeria PLC, United Bank of Nigeria PLC, Afribank of Nigeria PLC, Union Bank of Nigeria PLC.