The use of shorthand in Helena, Montana, offices
Elser, Glenda Wills
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The major purpose of this study was to determine if shorthand is a necessary skill for those persons who wish to work as secretaries in Helena, Montana. To collect data for the study, questionnaires were sent to 124 head secretaries in Helena, Montana, offices. The four strata used were (1) legal secretaries, (2) medical secretaries, (3) State government secretaries, and (4) other secretaries. Ninety-eight usable returns were received. Over half of the respondents reported that they were employed by businesses which employed 1-10 employees, and almost 90% of the respondents indicated they worked full time. Over 60% of the respondents reported they earned over $7 an hour. The findings of the study showed that 55% of the respondents did not have shorthand skill. Those with shorthand skill earned only slightly more than those without shorthand skill. A large percentage (48%) of the respondents with shorthand reported using that skill once a month or less. The two most common uses of shorthand reported were jotting telephone messages and recording verbal instructions. Over 70% of the respondents with shorthand skill indicated they did not feel they earned a higher wage because of that skill, and almost 80% of all respondents felt that their employers were not willing to pay more for a secretary with shorthand skill. Three-fourths of the respondents with shorthand reported they had never been promoted because of that skill: Even though the secretaries with shorthand skill seemed to go unrewarded in terms of increased wages or job promotions, 73% still felt shorthand was important to secretarial training programs. The data from the study indicated that most Helena employers do not require shorthand for their secretarial positions, and even fewer will require shorthand in the future. Only one of the employers who did require shorthand required a skill level greater than 80 words per minute. Based on the findings of the study, the writer recommends that shorthand be offered as an optional part of the secretarial curriculum, that speed standards for shorthand students be consistent with what employers require, that the shorthand program should not exceed one year, that practice in shorthand class should place less emphasis on dictation of letters and memos, and that less time be spent on transcription skills.