Background of the Study
The influx of modern office technology and information systems has greatly transformed secretarial administration in both public and private organizations in the 21st century. Minolta (1987) indicates that modern office technology and information systems have led to great changes in the role of confidential secretaries in office occupation. The confidential secretaries now conduct research on the internet, operate and troubleshoot new office technology and information systems, co-ordinate administrative activities, store, retrieve and integrate information for dissemination to staff and clients. According to the Bureau of Labour (2006), confidential secretaries serve as information and communication managers for offices, plan and schedule meetings and appointments, take minutes at meetings, organize and maintain paper work and electronic files. They disseminate information by using telephone, mail service and e-mail. The confidential secretaries are aided in their tasks by variety of office equipment such as fax machines, digital photocopiers, scanners and electronic paper trimmers. In addition to this, they use computer to create spreadsheets, compose correspondences, manage databases, create presentations, reports and documents using desktop publishing software and digital graphics.
The employer of labour, in teaching, office occupation and business environment in this era, needs confidential secretaries who are very knowledgeable and versatile in office management and in the use of modern office technology and information systems and in routine business functions such as generating, processing, storing, retrieving, handling and disseminating information with little or no supervision. This new trend has charged the Nigerian universities that offer business education programme (secretarial option) with the responsibilities of adequately exposing the secretarial students to the modern office technology and information systems so that they can effectively impart the knowledge and skills in the learners and also perform maximally well in office occupation if given the opportunity.
Statement of problem
Interactions with the graduates of secretarial education from the Nigerian universities that offer business education (secretarial option) reveals that the graduates of secretarial education in this era of advanced office technology and information systems are fast losing their employment opportunities to roadside trained computer operators and the graduates of humanities who are very knowledgeable and versatile in computer application packages and other office related equipment. This is as a result of their inadequate exposure to the practical application of modern office technologies such as
computer application packages and the internet. In support of this claim, Amaefula (1986) observes that the problem of secretarial education in Nigerian universities is a consequence of not exposing their students to the practical application of advanced office technology and information systems.
The students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) which is supposed to be an environment where the students would acquire practical skills, knowledge and competence in the modern office technologies, according to Igbinoba (2002) seems not to have delivered the desired results. According to Ezechukwu (2006), it has become a problem for students to secure placement in organizations where they would be exposed to modern office technologies. In view of the opinions of the scholars and personal observation of the researcher, it became necessary to embark on the research study that would adequately analyze the extent to which secretarial students in Nigerian universities are exposed to practical application of computer application packages that would adequately prepare the graduates for teaching profession and office occupation respectively.