Employers’ Perception of the HND Secretarial Graduates in Selected Companies

Employers’ Perception of the HND Secretarial Graduates in Selected Companies in Enugu Urban

In order to have a good theoretical foundation for this study, related literature was reviewed by examining the views expressed by eminent authors.  The review will cover these areas:

  • The secretarial graduate
  • Origin of secretarial profession
  • The roles of a secretary
  • Employer’s perception of HND secretarial graduates.
  • Summary of related literature

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A secretarial graduate is defined according to Hornby, (1974) as an employee in an office who deals with correspondence, keeps office records, makes arrangement and appointments for a particular member of staff.

Anaram (1983) an American secretary Association member defined a secretary as an assistance to an executive, possessing mastery of office skills and ability to assume responsibilities without driect supervision, who displays initiative, exercises judgement and makes decisions within the scope of her authority.

Harding (1988) stated that a secretary is one who is able to use initiative and fact, in handling situations, she acts on behalf of the boss in his absence and is equally able to handle administrative issues.

In addition to this, Harding (1988) elaborated that just as people have their own idea of an office, so too do they have their own perception of a secretary.  The word “HND secretarial graduate” means all things to all people and certainly many of those work in offices chose to shelter beneath the secretarial umbrella.  In some peoples mind a secretarial graduate will simple be someone who works in an office, answering telephone and doing the typing work.

At the other end of the spectrum, a HND secretarial graduate may be seen as someone holding a very responsible position within an organization, who provides a full range of management support which calls upon a variety of skills and abilities that would certainly not be pre-requisites to office study generally.

Edward (1974) in his book, asserted that a good secretary must be a wizard in short-hand and above average typist and good grammarian.

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Harding (1988) again contributed as follows by laying emphasis on the traditional secretarial roles, which are gradually changing the secretaries given the support of information technology, are able to exercise more of their administrative and support function which after all, is what secretarial work is all about.  Many people find that their career are now encompassing a wide range of more administrative type tasks, that their work is becoming more interesting and challenging with their roles extending into management.  The word secretary is familiar amongst mong employers but, has multi-dmensional meaning to different people because of their peculiar nature, individual circumstances and a course, areas/ degree of training / qualifications the career HND secretarial graduates enjoy to acquire.  Hence, in 1887, lord Esher defined a secretary as “a mere servant” whose position was to do as she was told, and that no person could assume that she had any authority to present anything at all, nor could any one assume that any statement made by her necessarily to be accepted as trustworthy without further enquing.

In contrast to Lord Esher’s (1887) Hannel et al (1974) clearly gave a vivid definition of whom a secretary is, in fact, and not what she had assumed to be.  Hence, Hannel et al (1974) a secretary is mastery of an office skill, who demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility without direct supervision, who exercises initiative authority.  From this definition, it becomes necessary to know who a secretary is and what she is up t in an organization or company where she is employed.  She is the image, brain and memory” of a company and also generates good human relations in working with employers in the company.  She is also the person who is concerned with the presentation, preparation and transmission of all types of communication with a company as well as the confectionary secretarial duties (Obodo 1990).

As a pre-requisite for successful accomplishment of the secretarial mission, that is, administration and evangelism, the agencies of secretarial services were used.

John, Robert, Gregg et al (1968) in their book “Applied secretarial in Business World and Professional Fields” is an essential work in diversified daily activities of the world’s enterprise. Her contributions are many sided and ranges from handling procedure to implantation management decisions. “she is in every sense an asset”.


The introduction of the secretarial profession is as old as man and nature.  It revolves as a result of the need to have record keeping of transactions, gatherings and otherwise.  It was important that whenever two or more people gathered to have vital discussion, it would be carried out by a secretary.

Events and works of great men during the time of socretes (399 Bc) were recorded in one form or the other, like Christopher Columbus, Alexander the Great etc.  reliable records show that the present day secretary came from the Genesis, those oldest is the Penman.

According to Micheal (1987) the first personnel officer trained was stylishly called “Penman” and his art is known as “Penmanship” the penman originally uses guil feathers as pens in writing fanciful writings.  Other classes of secretaries emerged after Penman called the writers’ constituted themselves with what may be regarded today as “chartered secretaries’ who rendered longing services to individuals and organizations that required their services.

Notably, typewriter invention changed the course of things for the secretaries because the started to learn how to manipulate it as well as write with their hands.  This was the origin of the stenographer and shorthand typist.  The invention of the first viable typewriter by Christopher sholes in 1873 brought about a serious search on how to make writings faster.

The secretarial profession underwent another evoluation with the coming of the world war ii in the year 1940 when the men draft into the armed forces, only the writers were left behind for secretarial jobs.  Since that time, the secretarial profession the world over has been a feminine domain with men getting into it as largely intruders.

The secretarial profession was introduced in Nigeria in 1914 by Sir Fredrick Lond Luggard (The first Nigeria Governor General) who brought his wife to assist him in keeping and storing important documents.  Today, it has gradually spread far and wide the country, every organization now has a person taking care of important documents in the name of a ‘secretary’.

According to Akintola (1992), the profession of stenographer was an all male affain up till the 1950’s.  only few women were found in the profession and these were expatriates.  The male stenographers were not preferred by the expatriates executives.  They preferred the female expatriates stenographer to the Nigerian male stenographer.  They were never placed as confidential secretaries, only the expatriates females were given such opportunities and this is because it was their language that was used and secondly, they had been well trained in their own country before coming to Nigeria.  He further stated that by the year 1960 and soon after independence, the expatriates begain to leave the country.  At that time Nigerian men and women who were abroad for training had came back with the required skills and were ready to take the positions left by the expatriates.

According to Odinagbe (1992) “the first generation of secretaries operated or existed between 1950 and 1970. almost all of them have disappeared from the scene or the remnants are on their way out.  The second generation of secretaries are those who have found themselves in the cadre since 1971.  this generation used the products of modern, improved technology.  About 25% of them were constant with the manipulation of electric typewriters.  They had better image and greater responsibilities and challenges than their predecessors.  As we begin a new decade, we almost imperceptibly move into a new and third generation.  The year 1991 to the year 2010 must be decisive, phenomenal and remarkable in the training, development and utilination of secretaries.

More so, secretary ship is consequently upon the arrival of the first European Missionaries in Nigeria (1842) at Badagry.  They established schools, churches and small scale business oriented enterprises.  As an indispensable and pre-regusite for successful accomplishment of their missions administration / evangelism, the agencies of modern secretary ship were established.

Otherwise, different methods of secretarial services had been in use.  Hence, in Igbo land, Nsibidi system existed, the hieroghyply obtained in Egypt, and messages were represented by carrying on woods in Akan Kingdom of Ghana.  More over, most of the events I West Africa prior to the coming of the European Missionaries were oral.

Later, sarp pointed instrument of feather pen came into being.  They were introduced to encourage and facilitate secretarial services.  In 1873, the origin ‘Querty’ key-board formation was inrented by Alexander scholes, being the typewriter key board as we know it today.  With the advent of typewriters, institutions for manpower training introduced typewriting with its aillied machines and writing in the pitman shorthand as soon as they were established due to overwhelming criteria for secretaries which allowed for documents for further use.

However, much improvement and innovations have been accomplished to enhance and facilitate the roles of secretaries.

Various office machines have been developed innovated and introduced into the profession.  Most of them used nowadays are electrically operated.  Notable among them are both manual and electric (electronic) typewriters available in portable, standard and special models, eg, the vartyper and Flexotyper, photocopying machines, Dictaphones, fax etc.  computers, word processors and confravision equipment are the most recent innovations with additional function keys for further improvement of the secretarial career.  These also, lend credence to the greater specialization which secretaries enjoy in producing impeccable correspondence documents and taking larger share of the work in office.



The roles of a secretary are familiar among other employers but, has multi-dimentional meanings to different employers.  There are many misconceptions about the HND secretarial graduates and the secretarial profession, one of which is that the secretarial assistance must be woman-serve every whim/ camprice of the chief Executives, in the pursuit of his objectives.  But far from it, there are males and females in the noble profession.  The genurie qualifications are of western education and lot of biological nature.

The HND Secretarial graduates are those office managers on whom the functions of the office rest squarely on according to their respective qualifications and rank or positions.  In other words, the functions of the office and that of the secretary are inseparable.  So, a good and effective HND secretarial graduate is expected to perform these following roles and office services Odigbe (1992).

  1. Gather and collect information from within and outside the company.
  2. draft proposals for the employer to amend or to approve
  3. draft reports and memoranda for the employer
  4. operate the telephone effectively
  5. take down minutes during a board meeting
  6. receive visitors and if necessary, turn any always politely.
  7. compose routine replies to letters and memoranda.
  8. punctuate and correct grammatical flaws generally
  9. maintains filing systems manually / electrically if trained accordingly.
  10. operate a reminder system to see that work is done at the appropriate times and dates
  11. arrange business journey for the boss as the need arises.
  12. control office staff effectively, with modesty and objective purpose.
  13. operate all office machines under his/ her control or authority.

These are because, according to Odenigbo (1995).  “The present day secretary is everything to the office indispenable to management and is true that a good secretary can make an average manager very effective’.

Perhaps, the duties of an effective HND secretarial graduate of this time might not have been spread enough to make meaningful impact in the minds of employers.  But the efforts to make our profession great, is a task that must be given reasonable continuous attention.

An effective HND secretarial graduate is indispensable to every profession.  For example, accountant, doctor, lawyer, Banker etc without the help of a HND secretarial graduate can never perform effectively and complete.

A HND secretarial graduate with a masters in an administration course, for example, business administration or public administration can work as the public relations officer of a particular company.  She would even do better because she would be coining her secretarial knowledge and the new knowledge to achieve a better result.


Anderson et al (1970), quoted that Ralph Knight described a secretary as supposed to be a “Jack-of –all- trades”, which included being a psychologist, politician, diplomat, research expert, business lawyer, personal banker for her employer or boss, errand girl, desk duster, she is a mind reader, voice culturist and clothes model.  Nwakanabi (1992) expressed that the modern secretary can be said to be one who has acquired the type of training that can make her cope with the present day automated office as well as enable her perform at executive level in the office.  The modern secretary is an assistant to the boss / employer as against the old idea that the secretary’s place is behind the typewriter.

In the words of Ogunniyi (1990), he stated that the secretary is the panacea for all office crises and problems.  She is the center of communication and information, the ceretaker of her management, the image maker of her boss and the organization, the inile between the employer and others and the whed of business operations.   He further said that the secretary is a manager of the most important commodities of any office time and information.  She is an expansion of the boss’s time because her role gets the boss to do more than he can accomplish in a day.

According to Anderson et al (1970), in a recent survey, executives were asked to define the ideal secretary.  Among the interesting replies are such comments as the ones below.

“Has a good background for her work assumes initiative and responsibility”.

“Is able to do a big part of the boss’s job better than him without telling him know”.

“Pays attention to details, has a good memory, is orderly and neat”.

‘can assign priorities to her own work and her boss’s work and follow through to help him keep on schedule’.

Does not need a great deal of supervision, thinks ahead’.

‘has excellent health and physical stamina, is emotionally stable and self confident’.

‘is siscret, dependable, co-operative and patient’.

‘knows and understands how her boss thinks, understands his personality and judgement’.

‘is vitally interested in her job and ambitious for both her boss and herself’.

‘possesses the ability to handle any situation that may arise.’

‘minds her own and her boss’s business’.

According to Aronodaran (1992) secretarial professional has not been accorded proper recognition in Nigeria.  This could be attributed to employers perception about the profession.  It was regarded as a profession for the drop-outs or those who could not gain admission into the few university to study Medicine, Accounting etc.  he further expressed that secretaries in those days even worsened the situation by perceiving their profession as inferior to others.  Osibo (1992) emphasizes that secretarial profession epitomizes different things to different people.  For example, it is erroneously believed that secretaries are people without sound academic and vocational base.  Other people believed that such a profession is for an individual who dropped out of the formal school system and wants to improve on her education.  She further said that because a secretary is an image maker of an organization, they were given Nicknames as “custodian of secret information.  The soul of the boss.  Thekey to the organization etc.  Ogunniyi (1990), stated that the general belief held by the majority of uninitiated employers is that a secretary’s role is confined to taking notes, typing, keeping records and making tea. He further stated that some archaic bosses / employers have wrong perception of their secretaries in a modern age they have a wrong view of who a secretary is.  To them, the secretary is a semi-literature, drop-out, a-good-for nothing, black head, good-only-for-the-rugged typewriter.

All these are attributed to the HND secretarial graduates who are the secretaries in various companies.


Some of the authors whose books were reviewed agreed that secretaries are contributory factors towards the survival of an organization.  As a result of this, many of them see secretaries as discreet, dependable, co-operative, patient, professionally intelligent people.  They also see them as the caretakers of management, information resources, image makers, wheel of business operations etc.

On the other, hand, some of the authors as well as some employers do not appreciate the work and role of secretaries in organizations, hence, they are seen as noise makers, drop-outs, soul of the boss, tea makers, note takers, semi literate, a- good-for-nothing etc.


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